According to Ray Evans, Southeast Tennessee Human Resources Agency executive director, the depot will be restored in two phases. The first phase includes grading the entrance and exit to the property, building a retaining wall, replacing a section of sewer line and manhole, and erecting a fence between the depot and railroad tracks.
The second phase will be restoration of the building that was placed on the National and Tennessee Register of Historic Places in April 2008. Some of the materials will be updated. The roof will have the appearance of the original terra cotta tile, but the new tiles will be made of aluminum.
“It will be beautiful when it is finished,” Ray said recently in a phone interview. “We are going to bring it back to its original condition as much as we can.”
The train depot will become the central transfer point for the Cleveland Urban Area Transit System and office complex, in keeping with its original purpose of mass transportation when it was built in 1909 at a cost of $17,400, which included the property. The last passenger trains serving the depot quit running in the late 1970s.
A groundbreaking ceremony is expected in November between the end of Phase I and the start of Phase 2.
The $208,000 for Phase I is a 100 percent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 grant through the Federal Transit Administration to the local transit system and SETHRA.
The building will be paid for by an 80/20 matching Transportation Enhancement program, also using ARRA funds passed through the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the city of Cleveland. The federal government will pay $451,000 and SETHRA will be responsible for about $113,000.
Evans said they are waiting on permission from the state to let bids on the second phase.
In addition to the train depot in Cleveland, SETHRA has purchased the old Health Department building in Marion County. The two sites will will eventually serve as transfer hubs for transportation service to and from the Chattanooga area in addition to the local fixed route transportation.
SETHRA has proposed constructing a 15,000 square-foot building in Chattanooga to house its regional transit and training center. The proposed Chattanooga facility will be the axis to seamless transportation for rural communities in Bledsoe, Bradley, Grundy, Marion, Meigs, McMinn, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie counties.