Marlinton depot waiting on grant money
The Marlinton Railroad Depot that burned down in March 2008 is still in shambles and people are wondering if the sign proclaiming, "The Depot will be rebuilt" is telling the truth.
It is. But the question of when reconstruction will start is still unanswered.
Private donations poured in and sufficient grant money was allocated to complete the project. But the biggest chunk of money is awaiting final review at the West Virginia Division of Highways (DOH).
In August 2009, Governor Joe Manchin announced the award of $335,040 to the Pocahontas County Commission for reconstruction of the depot.
The money came from the West Virginia Transportation Enhancement grant program, a federal aid program of the US Federal Highway Administration that supports non-traditional projects such as preservation of historic resources, tourism development, construction of pedestrian and bicycle trails and preservation of viewsheds along highways.
The DOH is responsible for final review of these projects, including an environmental review, before grant recipients are issued a "notice to proceed," allowing them to spend the money.
Since Governor Manchin awarded the grant money for the depot, the DOH received a large number of economic stimulus projects for review, which took priority over other projects because of time limits imposed by Congress.ﾠ
County commissioner Reta Griffith said the backlog might have delayed the depot project by as much as six months. Griffith said DOH transportation enhancement grant coordinator Jeff Harpolt is working as fast as he can to release funds for the reconstruction.
The depot project also received a National Scenic Byways grant of $127,000. Both federal grants require a 20 percent match, which Marlinton Railroad Depot, Inc., the non-profit corporation that owns the historic station, has raised from private donations.
The county commission solicited bids for bathroom construction in April, using the Byways grant money, but no bids were received. Griffith said more advertising would be necessary to find a contractor to do the work.
The C&O Railway laid track through Marlinton and built the station in 1898. Trains carried timber to a paper mill in Covington and passengers to Greenbrier County and beyond. Passenger service continued until 1958 -ﾠ freight service into the 1970s.
Most of the distinctive, bright yellow C&O rail stations were torn down. The Marlinton Depot, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, survived as one of the last remaining examples.
The Marlinton Railroad Depot, Inc., plans to build an identical, but modernized replacement.