Union Station redevelopment may require train tracks to be moved

Sunday , March 18, 2018 - 5:00 AM

OGDEN — Ogden City’s longtime ambition to redevelop Union Station and the surrounding area was furthered this week with a chunk of money from the state’s metropolitan planning arm.

On Wednesday, the Wasatch Front Regional Council announced Ogden was one of five Northern Utah cities to receive funding from the council’s Transportation and Land Use Connection program. The city will receive $25,000 to fund a study on the “Ogden Railyard Master Plan.”

The dollar figure may seem insignificant, but the study will kick off formal work on a long-discussed plan to transform the almost 95-year-old historic train depot. 

• RELATED: Ogden seeking 99-year lease extension from Union Pacific

The city administration wants to complete a large-scale renovation of the station and its grounds, which could include large, public open spaces, museums, art galleries, high-density housing, retail space, meeting and event space and administrative offices.

According to a project brief from the WFRC, the study will help guide future development at the station — looking at what’s feasible and what isn’t — but it will also detail the relocation of some existing rail tracks. 

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said certain portions of the track west of Union Station are somewhat under-utilized and sit on what would be valuable real estate in a redevelopment scenario.

“What they use some of that area for is basically just stacking trains,” the mayor said. “And that’s some high-value land that’s being used for stacking and storage.”

• RELATED: Underlying land still a rub with the Union Station building

Caldwell said getting Union Pacific to agree with moving track seems like a long shot, but it is something the study will explore.

“It’s a very slim possibility,” he said. “But it is part of this comprehensive look at the Union Station.”

Ogden will contract with an engineering firm familiar with train rail networks to evaluate potential track alignments, new crossings and impacts to Union Pacific. Caldwell said the city only recently found out about the grant, so there are no timetables for when the study will begin.

In late 2017, the city resumed management of the Union Station, ending a nearly 13-year management agreement with the Union Station Foundation. The city council allocated $567,000 for the station’s annual operating budget and put the facility under the city’s Community and Economic Development Department.

• RELATED: Ogden City dissolves Union Station agreement, will take over management

UP and Southern Pacific Transportation company donated the station depot, the annex and a few other buildings to Ogden in 1976. UP retained the underlying land surrounding the station as part of the lease agreement, a deal that is set to expire on Jan. 1, 2026.

Ogden officials want the station to operate as a self-sustained facility and have been working to buy the land around the station, or get UP to agree to a long-term lease extension. 

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook at facebook.com/MitchShaw.StandardExaminer.


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