Lawrence Expects to Take Ownership of Station

The Lawrence, Kansas, city commission will review today an agreement with BNSF that would give the city ownership and control of the Amtrak station later this year.

City officials said BNSF has decided to give up its stake in the former Santa Fe depot and property on which it sits.

The commission had earlier approved a pace with the railroad regarding station ownership.

“It’s very good for us, because we will have significant investment in the building itself and also in the site,” said Assistant City Manager Diane Stoddard. “And for us to be able to control it at the local level long term will be to our advantage.”

The station, which is served by the Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief, was built in the 1950s and has received minimal maintenance in recent years.

Lawrence will use a $1.2 million state transportation grant to renovate the building. The city’s contribution is expected to be $160,000.

Under the agreement being considered by the city, BNSF will donate the depot and land to the city. An earlier agreement by which BNSF would lease back or repurchase the station has been dropped.

BNSF officials said that they dropped their demands for a lease back or repurchase clause in order to simply the negotiations.

However, Stoddard said those changes in BNSF’s stance came from the CEO-level of the railroad.

“Donating the land with the building allowed us to streamline the transfer process,” said BNSF Public Affairs Director Andy Williams, adding that the railroad doesn’t anticipate needing the station in the future.

Stoddard also said the elimination of the lease-back provision means the station will be able to be used for various uses during daytime hours when Amtrak is not using it.

“With that no longer in play, it does provide a host of options for the city to consider with regard to the use of the building into the future,” Stoddard said. “Those things will need to be determined over time.”

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