Restoration complete on historic depot

Minot’s Amtrak depot put its final pieces of flood recovery in place with the installation of new benches Sept. 5.

The addition of 16 eight-foot, wooden benches completes the restoration of the building. The Amtrak Depot Restoration Committee received $30,000 from the Minot Area Community Foundation to replace plastic seating with benches that improve the look of the interior and are more in keeping with the history of the station.

“They were all very excited to see it come back,” city planner Donna Bye said, speaking for the committee regarding the restoration. “It’s really an entrance into our community. It’s a way a lot of people arrive here from all parts of the country, and that’s a very good first impression for us to have.”

Amtrak moved the existing plastic benches to the Williston depot to satisfy the need for more seating there, said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman in Chicago.

“The new look of the ‘old look’ of the station is much more attractive,” Magliari said. “We appreciate what the community has done to continue to show their affection for the station because the affection is mutual.”

Shortly before the flood, the restoration committee headed a project to give the depot a makeover, re-creating the historical look of the 1905 building. The exterior renovation was completed in 2008 at a cost of $417,547, which came from a $290,000 grant from the federal Department of Transportation and city sales tax. The city allocated $469,460 from a federal stimulus grant and $32,000 from city sales tax for the interior restoration project.

The beautification efforts, completed in December 2010, were washed away by the Souris River less than seven months later.

Amtrak spent more than $500,000 getting the station back into shape. R&K Contractors Inc. in Minot, which performed the original renovation, also was general contractor for the restoration after the flood.

Amtrak had set up a temporary waiting room and ticket office at the west end of the depot in November 2011. The main ticket office and waiting room were used for the first time again in April 2012. Checked baggage service resumed about a month later.

Magliari said a need remains for improvements to the concrete pad around the station and replacement of the platform. Those repairs aren’t scheduled at this time.

Amtrak will release its annual ridership numbers for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30 in October. Magliari said Empire Builder numbers in North Dakota could show decline because of reduced travel by oil workers, prompted by changes in housing availability and work schedules in the Bakken region. Ridership numbers still are expected to show a significant increase over five years ago, he said.