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Publication Date: Friday, April 20, 2001

Old Southern Pacific station house to be installed at transit plaza Old Southern Pacific station house to be installed at transit plaza (April 20, 2001)

By Justin Scheck

After abandoning plans for an office building/ transit plaza earlier this year, the city council has decided to put a 19th-century Southern Pacific train station at the VTA/Caltrain station on Evelyn Avenue.

The new downtown transit plaza will have a heavily landscaped open area surrounding a "No. 18" Southern Pacific station identical to the one that served as Mountain View's train station from 1888 until the 1950s.

According to a report prepared by Joan Jenkins, the city's transportation manager, Southern Pacific sold packaged railroad stations in a number of styles until 1906. The No. 18 is a long, one-story Victorian-style building with a two-story section at one end.

Approval for the station comes after a hotly debated proposal to build an office building with space for the Chamber of Commerce was voted down by the council Jan.30.

The council cast a 6-1 vote on a motion to scrap plans for the office building. Mayor Mario Ambra casting the dissenting vote.

Ambra said April 10 that despite his vote against the council's decision to pursue a project other than the office building, he did not like plans for the office building and had serious reservations about the lack of handicapped parking at the proposed facility.

Ambra said that since the newly approved station will not be a retail facility or a destination point for purposes other than its function as a train station, he does not see a problem with handicapped access.

"With our centennial coming up, our hundred year, and the Adobe (community center), the old train station coming back it will be a nice place," said Ambra.

The current station plan requires fast-track treatment by city staff, as a $325,000 federal grant awarded to the city to build the station will be rescinded if Caltrans does not approve the project by Sept. 30.

Council member Rosemary Stasek said that the station is "exactly what I was hoping for."

According to the staff report, the station could be either a new building or an old No. 18 station trucked to the site.

City staff has found a No. 18 station for sale in the Central Valley town of Vernalis, but no plans have been made to buy the station.

The building will house a bicycle shelter, an ATM, a VTA light rail operators' facility, an unspecified vendor of coffee, and possibly a newsstand.

The area surrounding the station will be heavily landscaped with palms, flowering plants and trees along the plaza boundary and in structures around the building.

The cost of the project has not been specified, but the city has $1,875,000 in capital improvement funds allocated for the site. Any additional costs will have to be approved by the council at a later date.


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