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Rugby’s Historic Gem Is Getting Improvements

By Staff | May 8, 2015

If you have been wondering what has been transpiring at the Rugby train station, wonder no more. According to David Valenstein of the Federal Railroad Administration in a letter written in April of 2014 the Rugby train station is becoming compliant with the 2006 Department of Transportation Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 Standards for Transportation Facilities. According to the letter the Federal Railroad Administration is funding the project to be undertaken by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) as part of the Accessible Station Development Program. This project is intended to bring portions of the Rugby station into compliance.

It is Amtrak’s intent to develop design solutions that will not diminish the characteristics of the structure and to perpetuate the distinctive historical identity of the Rugby station. The Rugby station building itself was constructed in 1907 and was individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.

The company that has been contracted to complete the work is Allen Construction, based in Illinois. When speaking to the on-site employees of the company they shared that they are cognizant of the historical significance of the Rugby Station, are looking forward to doing the exterior and interior work to the station, and are dedicated to taking great care of Rugby’s historic gem..

The exterior work being done is to install a new accessible walkway between public sidewalk and station building. Also, a curb ramp will be installed between the road surface and walkway, and new concrete station entrance ramps including handrails, will be constructed. Plus, they are to construct an ADA-accessible brick entrance walkway. They have indicated that there will be little waste with all bricks being reused when they are extracted for some of the improvements. Additional exterior work will be done in the platform area, which will include providing a new door and lock at the existing wheelchair lift enclosure. The contractor will also install new station signage. These station improvements will not replace any historic features. In addition, the contractor will take extra measures to match the existing style and color of the current structure with all work being done.

The Rugby train station will also have interior work done to comply with current ADA regulations. The building interior improvements will entail demolishing, reconfiguring and replacing plumbing fixtures in the two existing lavatories. This work will include installing new sanitary surfaces, including flooring, ceiling, lighting and widening the men’s and women’s lavatory doorways including changing the door handles and direction of swing. All the new doors, framework and trim will match the existing profile and finish. They are also installing a new “High-Low” drinking fountain. The old fountain will remain, according to the contractor, as a decorative piece. The company is also providing new hardware for the station entry doors to meet the new ADA requirements, as well as install a new transaction shelf below existing ticket counter. In addition they will be installing more interior signage.

The interior improvements will be handled in a manner that will preserve the distinctive features, finishes and construction techniques of the station and will avoid alteration of features and spaces that characterize the historical significance of the property.

When it comes to the train station and what is going on, no article can be complete without getting input from one person who knows and cares as much as anyone for Rugby’s Train Station. That person is Dale G. Niewoehner, a longtime Amtrak advocate and former mayor of Rugby.

We contacted Dale and asked him what he has heard about the project and to share some of his thoughts. Dale shared with us his knowledge of the project by relaying the following, “Upon my hearing that this long talked about project was to begin, I called the North Dakota Historical Society to make sure that the BNSF and Amtrak had discussed this project with the NDHS, since the Rugby station is on the National Register of Historic Places. The State Historic Preservation Review and Compliance Coordinator, Susan Quinnell assured me that it had been approved after a thorough review of the project over the last two years. This was done to make sure that historical preservation would be followed while they were making modern improvements to the interior and exterior of the station. Dale also confirmed that the original water fountain will remain as a static display, while a new handicapped accessible fountain will be functional. When asked what he thought of the work so far Dale commented, “The exterior work seems to being done with care, as I see neatly stacked platform tiles waiting to be hopefully replaced.” When asked what he thought of the project as a whole Dale shared, “Some might believe some of the methods used as overkill, but we must remember that this is a national system project. Havre, Montana and Rugby, North Dakota are the first stations in which this work is being done this summer.” He went on to say, “I will wait for the final completion to laud the project. History is very important to me and to this building.” Dale concluded by wanting everyone to know, “After the completion of the project, Agent Veach and I will again host a National Train Day event and grand opening to show off the improvements at the Rugby station. He concluded by saying, “Amtrak services are very important to our city and to the region of the state in which we live.”

Rugby looks forward to completion of the work and to the annual National Train Day event, and The Pierce County Tribune will be honored to cover it.

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