Sedalia Mayor Elaine Horn, SDDI Executive Director Meg Liston, Septagon Project Coordinator Jon Frandsen, Marc Magliari, Amtrak media relations manager; Rod Massmanm MoDOT rail administrator, and Allison Skare, staff assistant for Sen. Claire McCaskill, joined in celebrating the completion of the final construction project for the Missouri Pacific Railroad Depot renovation project on May 26. The $1.6 million project was paid for with roughly 60 percent federal and MoDOT funds, and roughly 40 percent local funds. The project was started in 1999, Liston said. An average of 50 trains pass through the area on a daily basis, she noted. The facility, originally donated to SDDI by Union Pacific, is also home to OATS transportation. Photos by Randy Kirby, Sedalia News Journal.
Completion of a decade-long project to stabilize and improve an historic Missouri Pacific Railroad station — and make it more accessible for passengers with disabilities – is being celebrated today by Amtrak and Sedalia Downtown Development Inc. (SDDI), with Septagon Construction and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
Amtrak passengers for the four daily Missouri River Runner trains now can use a platform compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and a just-renovated station waiting room, following a ceremony with Mayor Elaine Horn, SDDI Director Meg Liston and representatives of Amtrak, MoDOT and Septagon.
The newly remodeled station on the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks is better able to accommodate all passengers and features a new entrance and parking lot, with a modern waiting room and new restrooms. While the $1.6 million project was underway for the last three years, Missouri River Runner passengers used a temporary facility across the tracks.
The City of Sedalia and its residents contributed nearly a third of the project funds, with more than $810,000 also coming from Federal Highway Administration and Federal Transit Administration funds administered by MoDOT. Other federal, Amtrak and MoDOT funds have also been provided to transform the building into an intermodal facility with OATS transit.
The Sedalia station, which also serves the nearby attractions of Katy Trail State Park and the annual Missouri State Fair, has seen significant ridership growth. For the 12 months ending last September, 11,136 passengers began or ended their trips in Sedalia, a 12 percent increase from the previous year, despite the disruption caused by the construction project.
Service by the Missouri River Runner (Trains 311, 313, 314 & 316) is operated by Amtrak under a contract with MoDOT with two daily round-trips between St. Louis and Kansas City and with the support of the Missouri Rail Passenger Coalition, a group representing Sedalia and the nine other communities along the 283-mile route. Since the beginning of the Amtrak fiscal year on October 2010, Missouri River Runner ridership has risen by 15 percent, with a 20 percent jump last month.
According to the GreatAmericanStations.com website sponsored by Amtrak, the Sedalia station has had a long and interesting history dating back to 1885 and through SDDI’s purchase of the property in 2000 from Union Pacific, which merged with Missouri Pacific in 1982.
The website describes the improved passenger station portion thusly: “The improved passenger waiting room, lighted by windows on three sides, is bright and welcoming. Outside, it is marked by a bold new metal and glass canopy over the entrance; turning up toward the sky, it protects riders from the rain and snow. Where the structure is anchored to the ground, the pylons frame a long bench consisting of wood slates over a modern concrete base. One pylon graphically spells out “Amtrak” in large letters running down its side, much like the streamlined letters along the canopy and a few of the brick facades that read ‘Sedalia.’ Street lights similar to those found in downtown have been installed for better illumination.”