An architect has been contracted and planning has begun to renovate the restored Creston Depot in preparation for its return to train service, reports Creston City Administrator Mike Taylor. Amtrak is now seeking bids from contractors before work can begin.
“Amtrak officials came in just last week,” said Taylor, “and did a walk-through [of the depot]. So Amtrak has put a notice back out [for bids] ... and they’re due back to Amtrak sometime around April 1, who will then sort through them and decide what to do.”
Aside from serving as the city’s Amtrak station for the “California Zephyr,” the current Amtrak location, located at 100 W. Adams St. just west of the restored depot, is used as office space for the BNSF Railway yard. Former Iowa Governor Chet Culver actually suggested moving Amtrak services back to the restored Creston depot in 2009.
A 20-year lease to return Amtrak services to the restored depot was approved by the Creston City Council in June 2017. Talk of returning the station to the depot had been ongoing for several years.
The renovations, which Amtrak will pay for out of its own pocket as part of the lease agreement, include some cosmetic improvements and a variety of remodeling to ensure the nearly 120-year-old depot is ADA compliant for visitors and up to Amtrak’s standards.
Walker Coen Lorentzen Architects, Inc., out of Des Moines has been contracted for the project. More than $200,000 worth of work is anticipated. Included in the renovations will be structural repair to the outside of the building, as well as improvements to the inside of the building including a restroom remodel and refinishing of the historic waiting-room flooring.
Taylor also said most of the ground and bricks around the depot will be dug up and a better network of sidewalks and pavement, including a new ramp with rails, will allow for easier access to the front entrance to the building. An automatic door will also be installed.
Taylor expects the work to begin sometime this summer or fall, and to take six to nine months to complete.
“And it’ll be visible,” Taylor said. “You know, people will be able to see them. And we’ve told them that we need to be open five days a week, for our offices and for the mealsite, and so they’ll have to take precautions to make sure people can still get in and out of here during that time frame.”
The actual platform to board the train will not be directly out the back doors of the depot, but will be located a short walk west, nearer to the current Amtrak station. Taylor said the concrete platform will be extended as part of the project. Creston’s current Amtrak station was built in 1969.
“I’ve lived in Creston my whole life,” said Wally Miller of the Union County Historical Society. “And actually, my wife’s aunt was a big part of getting it (the old depot) saved — and I think this would probably be better for Creston. ... I mean, I remember I used to meet people at the train all the time. I have a lot of memories from it.”