After several blows this summer in the community’s push to preserve the Santa Fe Depot, the city of Lawrence received some good news Thursday.
The Kansas Department of Transportation received an $87,563 grant to finance the engineering and design services that are needed to restore the aging building that welcomes Amtrak passengers to Lawrence.
The project requires a $25,000 match from the city, which the City Commission must approve.
“This would be a project where the city would typically have a 100 percent funding responsibility,” said Diane Stoddard, assistant city manager. “So, it’s nice to be able to have the city’s funds go a lot further.”
A citizen’s group, Depot Redux, has led the effort to restore the 1950s train station in east Lawrence, which is owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
The station is in need of $600,000 worth of repairs — including a new roof, new heating system and upgrades to make the building accessible to people with disabilities.
This summer, the city’s application for a $583,000 federal grant that would help cover the cost of those improvements was rejected. The next round of transportation enhancement grant money likely won’t come until 2013.
KDOT approached the city about applying for a different grant that comes from the federal High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program. The program began in 2009 and is designed to create a national network of high-speed rail corridors. So far, more than a 130 projects have been funded.
“Much to the credit of Depot Redux, the Santa Fe station is on the radar screen of a number of agencies in the area,” Stoddard said. “So, I think it is really nice that not only are we looking for funding opportunities, but we have other agencies doing that as well.”
The new grant will give the city a complete set of construction plans that can immediately be put out to bid once funding is available.
The city continues to work with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to acquire the station, Stoddard said.