Archive for Saturday, December 3, 2011

New $1.5M boarding platform unveiled at Santa Fe Depot

City and state leaders along with Amtrak officials help cut the ribbon of a new outdoor boarding platform Saturday at the Santa Fe Depot, 413 E. Seventh St.

City and state leaders along with Amtrak officials help cut the ribbon of a new outdoor boarding platform Saturday at the Santa Fe Depot, 413 E. Seventh St.

December 3, 2011


On the street

Why did you come to the new platform ribbon cutting?

It’s important to preserve historic resources — people can understand the present through understanding the past.

More responses

City organizers and Amtrak officials were on hand Saturday at the Santa Fe Depot, 413 E. Seventh St., for the ribbon cutting event of the new $1.5 million outdoor boarding platform.

City organizers and Amtrak officials were on hand Saturday at the Santa Fe Depot, 413 E. Seventh St., for the ribbon cutting event of the new $1.5 million outdoor boarding platform.

Things are on the right track.

That’s what members of Depot Redux, a community group that aims to restore and improve the Santa Fe Depot at 413 E. Seventh St., had to say on Saturday, the day the ribbon was cut on a new platform, funded through federal dollars awarded to Amtrak.

Carey Maynard-Moody, the president of the group, said before the ceremony that the new, wheelchair-accessible, $1.5 million outdoor platform was the best step forward for the group — well, except for the City Commission approving a plan to acquire the station back from rail company Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

Mayor Aron Cromwell, state Sen. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, and Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak, all spoke to the crowd of about 50 at the event, and each gave a different, optimistic take on what journeys could be next for the station. The station currently sees two passenger train arrivals per day.

“This isn’t about more trains,” Maynard-Moody said, “but we have to believe that there will be more trains someday. No matter what, we see a good thing in the commitment to the project.”

Cromwell talked about the value of the restoration of the building itself.

“It’s becoming a real jewel for east Lawrence,” he said, and he praised the “neighborhood involvement” shown by the Depot Redux group.

He also spoke of “returning the depot to its original use and expanding that use,” a reference to a proposal to use the depot as a city transportation hub.

Francisco, a self-proclaimed big Amtrak user, said the station provides “robust opportunity that continues into the future.”

But Depot Redux has been lobbying, volunteering and organizing for nearly four years to get this point, Maynard-Moody said, and as much as supporters reveled in the new platform’s opening, they realize the challenges that lie ahead.

“Patience is a virtue,” she said.


frankfussman 5 years ago

I was going to read this little story at the Santa Fe Depot event Saturday, but it wasn't allowed...not scheduled. riverdrifter (Anonymous) says… I worked off and on as midnight train order clerk from 1977 to 1988 at the Santa Fe station. We got them all, the street folks, down there. One night, I don't know what year, it was a few days before Christmas and after the 15 and 16 Amtraks left at 1:20 am, I let several 'streeters' in the lobby since it was freezing rain and miserable out. Locked the doors and turned off the lights of the lobby. Forgot to read the lineup and a half hour later two brand new GP6-8 (I think) locomotives, brand new, with three business cars, pull up at the platform and off the rear car steps Harry Briscoe, General Manager. I about fainted. Harry comes in the office, makes a phone call (pre-cell phone days) and turns on the lobby lights. The Hat Lady sits up and indignantly barks “Kindly turn off that light.” Harry looks at me, looks at her, turns off the light and walks out to his train. After a few minutes the radio crackled and he ordered me to board Business Car 58, which I did. I thought I was fired. He handed me nine 10-dollar bills. I said “For?” He motioned to the lobby window and said “Them. Now get off my train!” They hi-balled and through the cogmill they went.

Everybody got their $10 at first light in the morning when they left. Harry counted well. I think Hawkes, who is now retired and lives in Lawrence, was hoghead on that train that night, so long ago.

KS 5 years ago

Harry was a top draw guy. I had met him a couple of times.

Lawrence Morgan 5 years ago

Thanks, frankfussman. It's a great story.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Both Maynard-Moody and marci francisco are correct about the future.

I see commuter train service on the horizon. In fact I favor spending the $200 million SLT dollars on establishing commuter train service. It would be by far the best bang for the tax buck thus worth pursuing.

KU_cynic 5 years ago

I'm baffled by this comment, merrill.

To commute from where to where?

chootspa 5 years ago

I'd rather take the train to Union Station than drive, and I know plenty of people who work in the plaza area and make that commute every day.

KU_cynic 5 years ago

If I were planning a trip to Union Station or Crown Center I too would like to ride the train -- assuming it would be conveniently scheduled.

How many trains a day out and back do you think the Topeka-Lawrence-Eudora-Desoto- --- route could support into Union Station?

And if there's enough volume of people who would rather not make that trip with a personal car, wouldn't a dedicated bus service (over already existing roads) be a much more cost-effective way to serve that demand?

That's the problem with these train nostalgists and their schemes: any train route that would make even remote sense could be much more more cost effectively served with buses. And I don't see anybody rushing to invest in commuter or intercity buses in this area.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"How many trains a day out and back do you think the Topeka-Lawrence-Eudora-Desoto- --- route could support into Union Station?"

In the early part of the 20th century, there were plenty of riders to support the interurban system taking this very route, and that's when population density was 1/3 of what it is today.

KU_cynic 5 years ago

Great, another misty-eyed nostalgist chimes in . . .

And what was the annualized ownership cost for an automobile relative to per capita income back in the early 20th Century, and what was the market penetration of automobile ownership then, too?

Trains make a lot of sense on very densely traveled routes and when expansion of roads/parking isn't cost effective, like in the northeast corridor of the US. Elsewhere . . . and especially out here in the plains ... it just doesn't make sense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

The corridor from Topeka to KC and further east is easily densely populated enough to support a commuter rail line (as the popularity of the interurban railway of less than a century ago, with considerably less dense population amply demonstrates.)

But we're too addicted to our cars to divert any of the $billions in subsidies away from them in order to put a commuter line back in place.

AlanB 5 years ago

Actually, you can't run a bus more cost effectively than a train, if the route makes sense.

According to data from the National Transit Database, in 2010 on average in this country it costs 40 cents per passenger mile to move people by heavy rail (subways & El's) and commuter rail. Put that person on a light rail train and it costs 70 cents per passenger mile.

Move over to the bus and it costs 90 cents per passenger mile to get the job done. And that amount doesn't include any allowance for fixing all the damage that more than 50,000 daily buses cause to our roads & highways.

So no, a bus wouldn't be a more cost effective way to serve the demand.

melott 5 years ago

$1.5 million for a platform? No wonder this country is in trouble.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

What was included in the project, and how much should it have cost?

jayhawkinsf 5 years ago

I'll tell the story again, for those who might have missed it. A few years ago, in San Francisco, the following situation came up. The Board of Supervisors (the local governing body) conducted their business at city hall. Their seats all were at the same level, except one, reserved for a rotating position of president of the board. Well, one member of the Board of Supervisors was confined to a wheelchair, and unable to assume her largely ceremonial position when her turn came. (The old chambers were built long before this situation was contemplated). So the city set out to build a wheelchair ramp so that she, and future Presidents of the Board of Supervisors could use the wheelchair ramp.
The cost of the ramp came in at 1.1 million. At the time, the city was broke and laying off workers. For a once in a hundred years "need", is this a wise expenditure of government funds? I don't know, but that's just how government works.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

And how does that in any way answer the question I posed?

jayhawkinsf 5 years ago

What was the question?
I saw a statement to which I replied that my previous post was "obviously" going off subject by beginning with "I'll tell you a story...". Was it not obvious to you? Or were you expecting me to answer the questions you posed after merlott's comment? To which I would have to say I don't know.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

"What was the question? "

"What was included in the project, and how much should it have cost?"

The project in this case being the new boarding platform.

kochmoney 5 years ago

That's right, kids. Disabled people don't deserve accommodations if they turn out to be expensive.

jhawkinsf 5 years ago

A functional ramp could have been built for a couple of hundred dollars (in the example I used in San Francisco). But functional was not what they were going for. They wanted something at least as ornate as everything else in city hall (whose dome was layered in real gold during renovations in the good old days of the era in the '90s.). My point wasn't that a ramp shouldn't be built but that the government should be cognizant of costs when they make these decisions. Generally, they're not.

grisgris 5 years ago

I am under the impression that grants paid for the improvements. As far as I know, there have not been any Lawrence tax dollars spent on this project, yet.

kochmoney 5 years ago

You're under the correct impression, grisgris. Our San Franciscan friend here is just wanting to vent on something unrelated.

kochmoney 5 years ago

So your off-topic beef with a completely unrelated project is that they wanted to make it match the rest of the city hall and included other renovations. The "city" not being Lawrence or even a city in the same state, but this particular beef has haunted you long enough to post about it at least twice.

Google says you're also haunted into hyperbole, since the price was apparently more like $500k. The ramp itself was only $16k - not unreasonable for the room. And no, you couldn't have made a functional ramp for a couple of hundred dollars including materials and labor - not at a 1:12 grade in that particular room, anyway.

CharlesinCharge 5 years ago

It was for more than the platform. The improvements included the new platform, a ramp, railings, new support poles for the canopy, handicap parking signage, parking striping and new lighting for the entire length of the platform. The entire platform is approximately twice the length of the building.

gccs14r 5 years ago

Have you seen all the work that was done? It's not a plain at-grade slab.

kawrivercrow 5 years ago

For 1.5 million dollars, I will be on-call to promptly show up and hand-carry any handicapped passengers onto the train, then give them a blanket and fluff their pillow before seeing them off in a volley of "bon voyages" a la Bugs Bunny-style.

jayhawkinsf 5 years ago

I'd do it for 1.4 million, but my union won't allow it.

kochmoney 5 years ago

For 1.5 million dollars, you could buy a decent platform that ALL passengers could use, and the extra bonus is that you can drag your wheeled luggage up the ramps instead of having to lift it up curbs.

kochmoney 5 years ago

Oh wait. For 1.5 million dollars, that's exactly what we bought.

geekin_topekan 5 years ago

Lawrence has plenty of out of work 'X' people that could work for room and board. X= Veterans. Health care workers. Recent KU grads. State employees. Mentally ill

ad infinitum. Your point?

Flap Doodle 5 years ago

A crowd of 50? Most likely the largest crowd that will be there in the next 12 months.

Tgill 5 years ago

frankfussman If 15 and 16 were still running it was before Nov of 1979 first trip that No 4 made through Lawrence in Nov 1979 was when Amtrak failed to make the 30 mph curve and made a big mess I was working in the dispatchers office that day

Kawatchi 5 years ago

I would like to see more pictures to get an idea of what was done. On the surface, $1.5M for a "platform" seems wildly excessive.

Noweigh 5 years ago

In fairness to the project, I do have a couple of questions for Redux committee members and/or city officials, or anyone that knows the true facts...

Where did the 1.5 million come from? Donations, grants, "private" Amtrak funding/partnership, etc.? How was it decided that this project was the priority?
If a glorified platform/sidewalk is 1.5 mil, how much to remodel/upgrade the building itself to necessary standards?
Was this money that was specifically earmarked for the depot or could it have been used elsewhere? thanks in advance for straight, factual answers.

chootspa 5 years ago

Reading for comprehension says the 1.5 million came from a federal grant to Amtrak. Further reading on related articles will answer the rest of your questions. Do enjoy your reading time.

Kawatchi 5 years ago

Yeah, looks like this one was on the taxpayers.

lunacydetector 5 years ago

6,410 riders over a 1 year period. $1.5 million for a 4,000 square foot building remodel. that amounts to $375 per square foot, or $234.09 per rider year divide that over 50 years and it amounts to $4.68 per rider for the next 50 years, assuming ridership stays stagnant.

it is federal tax dollars at work, which taxes trickles down to you and me.

was this a good buy?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Completion of the eastern leg of the SLT will cost about $6500 a foot, and all of it will be tax dollars. Is that a good buy?

gl0ck0wn3r 5 years ago

Apples and oranges comparison. The first measure was by ridership and you are measuring by foot. How much will it cost per user assuming a 50 year span of time to finish the eastern leg? That's a fair comparison.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years ago

Are you going to add in maintenance costs over those 50 years? The cost of global warming from all the fossil fuels involved? All of the subsidies required to supply those fossil fuels? The medical and other costs of everyone killed or injured while using it? The costs of owning and maintaining the vehicles, and propping up the too-big-to-fail companies that manufacture them?

gccs14r 5 years ago

The $1.5 million was for the platform. The building hasn't had any work done on it yet.

1southernjayhawk 5 years ago

The real irony in all this is the progressives tried to control the passenger train industry a few decades ago which eventually squeezed many of the operators and routes into bankruptcy. Now the same progressives want to 'will' the trains back to replace the automobile. Too late for that except in densly populated areas. I realize that it is a work of fiction but I would advise all of you who haven't read it to read 'ATLAS SHRUGGED' to get a good idea of why we are where we are economically as a country.

gccs14r 5 years ago

You misspelled General Motors.

puddleglum 5 years ago

man, this makes my caboose hurt.

any possibly way we could cancel this whole SLT thing and get our money back for the western leg?

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