UPDATE: After Postponement, Southern Pacific Railroad Depot Relocation Rescheduled for February 4


The Depot sits on wheels just feet from its old foundation on San Francisco Avenue. 

UPDATE  6:03PM  |  The relocation of the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot (SPRD) has a date once again after being postponed last night due to clearance issues, with no concrete date set. The SPRD will catch the midnight train to Willow Springs Park at 10:00PM February 4th, and once again the community is being invited out to walk with the historic building as it’s transported to its new home. 

Katie Rispoli, executive director at We Are The Next, made the announcement through social media that the plans have been finalized to move the 107-year-old building next Wednesday. A statement put out through the We Are The Next Facebook page Thursday evening confirmed the move. 

“We have worked extensively today with regulatory agencies to ensure everything is in order, and anticipate that all will go as planned,” the statement read.

We Are The Next is a non-profit organization based in Downtown that teaches sustainability through the preservation of existing resources. 

Rispoli, who organized the move for the city, said earlier today that the train depot, which is currently sitting on a trailer parked in front of its old location at the Public Service Yard on San Francisco Avenue, will remain there with streets being closed until the move next week. 

1/29/15 11:49AM  |  According We Are The Next Executive Director Katie Rispoli, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has asked the group to postpone the relocation of the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot, originally planned for last night and tentatively rescheduled for tonight, until sometime next week. 

CHP officers had originally approved the necessary permits needed to move the building the 5.5 miles from it’s current location at the Public Service Yard on San Francisco Avenue to its new home at Willow Springs Park. However, officers on location last night felt that the building, the height of which, when loaded on the trailer, was very close the the permitted 17 feet, might tilt when going around corners, causing the higher side of the building to scrape on street signs or other obstacles. CHP officials told We Are The Next they will not be charging for the new permits needed, since the old permits had been approved. 

The trailered building will remain parked at its current location on San Francisco avenue between 14th and 15th until it is moved next week. The section of the street, which is primarily used by city employees going to and from the Public Service Yard, will remain closed until then.

A new specific date for the relocation has yet to be announced.

1/29/15  12:50AM  |  The relocation of the 107-year-old Southern Pacific Railroad Depot (SPRD), set to move the historic building to its new home at Willow Springs Park where it will serve as a community center once renovated, was postponed for 24 hours after concerns over the height of the structure resulted in a mutual agreement to wait and try again Thursday night.

Coffee and adhesive reflector lights were handed out to the crowd of around 50 that had gathered to witness and walk alongside the the railroad depot as it was towed through the streets of Long Beach. Onlookers snapped photos while workers put what was thought to be the finishing touches on the moving platform. Seventh District Councilman Roberto Uranga was on hand to see the building off on its trek, dubbed “The Big Move,” which would end in the district he presides over.

A cheer erupted when the rig that was supposed to tow the building started its engine and the lights dotting the perimeter of the structure illuminated, but it only signaled the continuation of the crowd’s wait. And they waited. 

The call to postpone the move was announced shortly before 11PM, sending those hopeful to participate in the estimated 4-hour event home quite a bit earlier than anticipated.

DSCN3696Katie Rispoli, Executive Director at We Are The Next, a non-profit group based in Downtown that works to get kids and communities using historic spaces, and who was managing the project for the city, said that the primary concern was the height of the structure while on top of the wheeled platform. Although it was within their permitted height of 17 feet, it was right at the upper limit of the permit, which raised concerns that turns along the route could cause the structure to peak above 17 feet. Rispoli said the group would be adjusting their permits with Caltrans to 19 feet in the morning and the move should be good to go again Thursday evening.

“We need to make sure our height limits are 100 percent positive,” Rispoli said. “They’re just making sure that everything is height-approved and that we’re ready to go because we might need to make some adjustments stoplight-wise, street sign-wise along the way to make sure the building is clear.”

The move was scheduled to start at 10PM but it became clear that the more time members of the moving crew spent underneath the rig and measuring the height of the structure that the chances of the project moving forward might have hit a snag. The crowd quickly dispersed when rumors of the postponement of the night’s big event were verified by Rispoli. 

The 5.5 mile move was expected to take as much as five hours with an optimistic goal of somewhere between 3.5 and four hours. However, now facing the prospect of having to possibly move or dismantle street signs on an intersection by intersection basis, Rispoli said the move tomorrow will probably hit closer to the original estimate of five hours.

To avoid having to relocate the building overnight, the street near the current depot currently location at 1475 San Francisco Avenue will be temporarily closed until Thursday night when the move is set to proceed to Willow Springs Park. The postponement isn’t expected to affect the overall budget of the project because of the donation of time by the California Highway Patrol, which is helping escort the depot.

The second attempt is scheduled to begin at 10PM Thursday and will travel the same route, which will take the building east on San Francisco, south on Magnolia, east on Ocean, north on Atlantic and finally head east on Willow before arriving at Willow Springs Park.

The Southern Pacific Railroad Depot was originally built in 1907 near Broadway and Pacific Avenue, and is the only one left of three railroad stations that once served Downtown Long Beach. It has been relocated once before, in 1936, to its current location in the Public Service Yard on San Francisco Avenue near West Anaheim Street, where it served for years as the City’s Material and Chemical Testing Laboratory, before being used for storage.

Once a multi-year renovation of the building is complete, it will serve as a multi-purpose community center at its new home at the southwest corner of Willow Springs Park, near the former site of railroad tracks used by Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.