Our endangered depot?

The fight over Sacramento’s historic rail depot is heating up following the depot’s designation as one of the nation’s 10 most endangered rail stations.

The depot made the national registry established by the Great American Station Foundation, an organization seeking to draw attention to the plight of historic rail stations at risk of demolition, neglect or discontinued use as transportation facilities.

Sacramento’s depot was built in 1926 and has fallen into neglect over the years. While the building itself is protected from demolition because it is on the National Register of Historic Places, there have been controversial plans to convert it and land surrounding it into a major commercial center.

Two groups are currently at odds over what to do with the station. A group of transportation interests called the Sacramento Intermodal Transportation Alliance—which includes Union Pacific, Amtrak and Greyhound—have put forth a proposal to move current Amtrak operations out of the station to a new site several hundred feet to the north.

Opposing this plan is the Save Our Rail Depot Coalition (SORDC), a group of environmental and historic preservation organizations, which wants to see a multimodal transportation center built around the existing station. They say SITA’s proposal would leave downtown disconnected from mass transit services and that it would promote suburban-style development on the greater rail yard property.

“We have a great cultural resource here that is not being recognized. It deserves to be brought back to life as a city center,” said Greg Taylor, an urban planner with SORDC.

The Great Station Foundation’s planning director, Erich Strebe, said his organization was not making any judgment about either proposal. “Until the city actually selects a plan, we believe the station is in jeopardy,” said Strebe.

He added that Union Pacific representatives called Strebe and pressured him not to put the depot on the list.