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(rshsdepot) Winston-Salem, NC
- Subject: (rshsdepot) Winston-Salem, NC
- From: I95BERNIEW_@_aol.com
- Date: Tue, 4 Oct 2005 05:51:22 EDT
From Saturday's Winston-Salem Journal.
NEXT STOP, WINSTON-SALEM'S UNION STATION, LEADERS HOPE
GREENSBORO REOPENS TRAIN DEPOT; OFFICIALS HERE HOPE FOR SAME
By Jim Sparks JOURNAL REPORTER
Passenger trains were scheduled to start pulling into the newly restored J.
Douglas Galyon Depot in downtown Greensboro for the first time in 25 years
early this morning.
Winston-Salem city officials envision a similar scene someday at the
once-grand Union Station.
The former rail depot sits on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive near
Winston-Salem State University.
The 1926 station, with marble tiles and hand-carved wooden benches, closed
in 1970 after serving as the main departure point for passenger trains in
Forsyth County for 44 years.
It has housed Davis Garage, a privately owned repair shop, since 1975.
"If Greensboro and High Point can do it we can do it," Greg Turner, an
assistant Winston-Salem city manager in charge of public works, said of returning
the station to its former glory as a transit hub. "The building is in good
shape even though it may not look like it from the outside."
Turner said that Harvey Davis, the building's owner, has done a good job
maintaining many of the interior features that gave the brick-and-sandstone
building its character.
"The walls weren't moved or the floors torn up, which often happens with
buildings like this. The conversion back to a historic train station will be
easier because those things haven't been done," Turner said.
Amtrak's southbound Crescent train was expected to stop at Greensboro's
Galyon Depot at 12:30 a.m. today.
The return of passenger service marks the completion of a four-year, $31
million effort to turn the 1927 building back into a transit center, said Kevin
Elwood, a spokesman for the city of Greensboro. Most of that money came from
state and federal sources.
At the peak of passenger rail service in the 1940s, more than 40 trains a
day stopped at the downtown station, which Southern Railway donated to the city
of Greensboro in 1979.
Since then, passenger trains serving Greensboro have used a station off
Spring Garden Street.
Until restoration efforts started, the former downtown depot served many
purposes, including frequent use as an event venue.
"A lot of people hoped all along that it would be used as a train station
again," Elwood said.
Amtrak passenger service also returned to High Point after its restored
station was rededicated in 2003.
Because Winston-Salem is off Amtrak's main line, the return of
passenger-rail service here is riding primarily on regional efforts to develop
Consultants working for the Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation
are studying whether to build a 33-mile passenger rail system between
Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Construction could start by 2011, with service by 2014.
Brent McKinney, PART's executive director, said that a restored Union
Station would play an important role in future transit plans.
"It could be a major western hub for our regional system," McKinney said.
"Not only would the station be used as a stop for commuter rail, but it would
also be used as a terminal for express bus service running north and south
along U.S. 52."
City officials think that Union Station's restoration could also lead to
extensive new development in the WSSU area southeast of downtown, similar to
growth occurring in downtown Greensboro.
"The renovation of the Depot has already had a tremendous impact on
development," said Keith Holliday, Greensboro's mayor. "We're confident this station
will continue to be a catalyst for activity and development in the downtown
PART and Winston-Salem city officials are working together toward acquiring
and restoring the old Union Station building.
Renovation could be done in stages with bus service restored to one part of
the station while work continued to make the station ready for rail.
Efforts are being paid for with a $1.3 million federal grant awarded in
However, the total project cost is expected to run more than seven times
Consultants are being brought in to assess soil contamination and other
environmental problems and to upgrade original estimates made at least five years
At that time, the projected cost of buying and renovating the station was
set at $9.7 million.
That number is expected to rise substantially.
The appraisals of the building and property alone have risen in the past
eight years to $600,000 from $275,000.
The city may also have to use its power of eminent domain to secure the
site, because Davis isn't expected to give up the property easily.
In such cases, the landowner must be given fair compensation, and the action
must be for public benefit.
City officials have approached Davis before.
Davis said again yesterday that he doesn't want to sell.
"They may not give me a choice, but then I'll just have to park a tank out
front," Davis said laughing.
He also said he might try to do something with the property himself.
"It's a grand old building that can be used for a higher and better use, and
we hope to do that someday," Davis said.
The Railroad Station Historical Society maintains a database of existing
railroad structures at: http://www.rrshs.org