Depot stalls traffic, nears new home
Crews to finish work Friday
By Vanessa Miller (Contact)
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
8 p.m. Wednesday — Workers start closing roads and preparing to take down power lines for the move.
10 p.m. — Dozens of spectators are gathered around at the time the depot is scheduled to start moving.
11 p.m. — One of the moving trucks has a mechanical failure, and another truck is needed from Commerce City. Spectators begin to leave.
Early Thursday — The depot starts to move until workers realize steel beams attached to the depot are too long and need to be cut. Crews also have to cut down trees to make way for the building.
7 a.m. — Morning commuters get on the road and find that Pearl and 30th streets still are closed, and the depot is in the intersection.
10 a.m. — Workers build a ramp so the depot can safely roll over Comcast television cables.
Early afternoon — The depot arrives at its new location, where it will be placed on a foundation today.
Boulder’s historic train depot has nearly completed its move to a new home after enduring a long night of unexpected obstacles that left the 4,000-square-foot building parked in the middle of the intersection of Pearl and 30th streets Thursday.
More than 24 hours after officials planned to have the Union Pacific/Jaycees Depot moved from the northwest corner of 30th and Pearl streets and parked on a new foundation at the site of Boulder’s planned Transit Village, the depot remains on wheels and chained to a truck.
Project officials decided to halt work Thursday afternoon, after getting the 800,000-pound building off the roads and next to a cement slab that will serve as its foundation, because unexpected obstacles stalled the move and kept crews awake through the night.
Workers plan to return today to the site to set down the depot, said Mary Huron Hunter, a Boulder spokeswoman.
“But they were spent because they needed to sleep,” Hunter said. “Safety is our No. 1 concern.”
It took workers about 12 hours to move the depot about one mile to the Transit Village site, where it arrived just after noon Thursday, Hunter said. Officials had hoped to sneak the depot to its new home overnight so streets could be reopened by morning.
But unforeseen problems — a broken truck, mismeasurements and unprotected TV cables — stalled the depot and left portions of Pearl and 30th streets closed for about 18 hours, until 1:40 p.m. Thursday, said Brad Power, the city’s redevelopment director.
“The most unbelievable thing is that the building is in excellent condition,” Power said. “But the move was enormously more complicated than we expected.”
The road closures frustrated some motorists and fascinated others, who snapped pictures of the image: the depot stalled in the intersection with its roof inches from street lamps.
“This is a pretty unique one,” said Joe Robb, 72, of Boulder, “even for Boulder.”
Shoppers eager to get to the area’s Whole Foods managed to find the only street entrance despite numerous barricades and construction zones, said Laura Larson, marketing specialist for the Boulder store.
“I’m shocked at how busy we are today,” Larson said Thursday. “But I think some people are finding their way over here to grab some food and watch (the depot move). It’s a historical moment.”
The city decided to move the depot, which was built in 1890, so the Whole Foods shopping center can be redeveloped. It’s the second time the depot has been relocated. It started its life at the corner of 14th Street and Canyon Boulevard in downtown Boulder, and encroaching development forced its move in 1973 to the spot that later became the Whole Foods parking lot.
For its second move, workers mounted the depot onto giant steel beams, each welded to 12 sets of dolly wheels, and pulled it with two trucks.
The first problem came when one of the trucks broke down, and another vehicle had to be fetched from Commerce City, said Chris Meschuk, historic preservation planner for the city. Once the depot started rolling, Meschuk said it had some trouble making the corners.
The steel beams welded beneath the depot were found to be too long and had to be trimmed down, he said.
“And then the building ran into a few trees,” Meschuk said. “So we had to take those down.”
When crews realized the depot was going to run over Comcast cables that provide television service to a large portion of Boulder customers, workers built ramps so the depot could roll safely over the fiber-optic cables.
Abby Daniels, executive director of Historic Boulder, said she was impressed with the workers’ improvisational skills.
“This team of people, in different roles and areas, really worked together to problem-solve with all the different things that came up,” Daniels said. “Historic Boulder is delighted that it is finally moved.”
But Djavan Nascimento, 18, of Boulder, said the depot move — and related road closures — inconvenienced him. He said he was waiting for a bus on 30th Street, saw his ride nearing, and then watched as it took an unexpected turn.
“It was supposed to pick me up for school,” Nascimento said. “So I just started walking, and this is what I found.”
Anna Marie Robb, a longtime Boulder resident who watched the move in awe Thursday, said the city’s decision to preserve the depot is a gift.
“Good for Boulder.”