Moving Hamilton’s historic train station may be more troublesome than first thought

Here's a historic photo of what now is known as the CSX station along Martin Luther King Boulevard that Hamilton officials want to save in coming weeks moving it a few blocks north. PROVIDED
Here's a historic photo of what now is known as the CSX station along Martin Luther King Boulevard that Hamilton officials want to save in coming weeks moving it a few blocks north. PROVIDED

It may be more troublesome and costly to move Hamilton’s historic train station that’s located on the CSX rail line near Martin Luther King Boulevard, City Council was told last week.

The city’s director of engineering, Rich Engle, told council that during a pre-bid meeting with two companies interested in moving the station’s two abandoned buildings, city staff learned there were two options to do so, but they may cost more than originally expected.

The station was built in the 19th century by the Cincinnati, Hamilton & Dayton Railroad and a local history experts said it hosted visits by presidents Abraham Lincoln, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.

ExploreHamilton council votes to save both buildings of historic CSX train station

Before council had voted to move both the station’s buildings a couple blocks north to Maple Avenue, officials estimated it would cost $600,000-$650,000 to move them both and place them on concrete foundations. Depending on what council decides after seeing the bids that were opened a day after its last meeting, the city may save money.

Here are the two options:

  • To move both buildings by raising them at ground level, which would require the companies to dig around the perimeters of both so beams can be placed beneath the buildings’ floors also would require disposal of the soil and other debris that was removed, Engle said. This would be more expensive, would take longer to perform, and could have conflict with the CSX trains passing through the area, he said.
  • The less expensive, faster possibility would be to create holes in the station’s walls and place the beams that would be used to lift the buildings through those brick walls, which would leave holes in them. That would cost less, would require no excavation below the buildings and require no disposal of materials, Engle said.

By choosing the second option, “we would sacrifice the brick in that location,” Engle said. Also, he told council: “The one mover even commented how soft the brick was.”

City staff recommended council approve a resolution going with the second option, but the elected officials postponed that decision until their Aug. 25 meeting, saying they wanted to see the bids on each option before deciding. Council members also expressed concern that making holes in the station’s walls could harm its chances of winning historic tax credits in the future. Officials did not know how many holes would have to be put in the walls.

The bids were opened Thursday.

Here were the bids for digging below the buildings and placing beams beneath them: Wolfe House Movers of Indiana, LLC bid $656,000; while Edwards Moving & Rigging, Inc. would do it for $1,750,000.

For the second option, placing beams through the buildings, Wolfe House Movers bid $370,000; and Edwards Moving & Rigging bid $1,387,500.

A northern Ohio company that earlier provided an estimate of how much it would perform the work for did not bid, because “they were unhappy that their pricing to do the work was public,” Engle said.

Council member Carla Fiehrer, who voted against saving the buildings because she feared they could become a “money pit,” and was joined by Susan Vaughn in that vote, asked, “Are any of you concerned that the brick is deteriorating, and that it’s soft?”

Engle said the companies believed either option to move the building, despite soft bricks, but it meant some bricks might have to be replaced anyway.

Council Member Tim Naab said he wants to know how many holes will have to be made in the buildings’ walls to place the beams through them, an answer that wasn’t available.

Fiehrer said, “It just seems like, what I feared, is that now we’re finding out things that are really wrong with it now that we own it. So is there a way before we actually lift it up and move it that somebody can really come and tell you...?

Council member Eric Pohlman said the companies probably wouldn’t bid if they didn’t consider the building sound. Also, “that building’s three bricks thick,” he said.

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