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Grand Opening Of The
Martinez New Amtrak Station!
http://www.trainweb.com/news/2001i22a.html

Click On Each Link To View Each Set Of Photos:
Set #1 / Set #2 / Set #3 / Set #4

Click here to read the Press Release!

MICHAEL MENESINI, Mayor of Martinez, was "Master of Ceremonies". He is the first man I photographed at the podium.

The morning was clear and a bit breezy, and not at all hot, as I had expected. Temps in the high 60's.

The ceremony actually began around 10:20 am. [I have a program I am referring to.]

The Alhambra High School Band played, and the Mayor of Martinez spoke. There was a "moment of silence to honor the victims of the national tragedy". Very moving.

Then the Martinez Town Crier gave a proclamation: "OYEZ! OYEZ! HEAR YE! HEAR YE! [etc.]" He is the man in the fancy red outfit, with the 3-cornered hat. His name is REDMOND O'COLONIES.

The Mayor of the city of Martinez, MICHAEL MENESINI, spoke. He was Master of Ceremonies for the day. His main points were: 1. This depot project took TWELVE YEARS. Began back in 1988. 2. Cost $35 million.

Then the Assistant Manager of the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority spoke. His points: 1. First money for depot project came from $5 million from "Measure C" sales tax. 2. It was leveraged FIVE TIMES from other funding sources.

Then JOEL KELLER, representing the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, spoke. The "Capitols" are managed by BART. His points; 1. In just ONE YEAR there are FIFTY PERCENT MORE riders! 2. The five-year plan is to increase the number of Capitol Corridor trains from the 18 a day now to 32 a day.


Gil Mallery, President of Amtrak West

Then GIL MALLERY spoke. He is President of Amtrak West. Highlights of what he said: 1. In the year 2000, 280,000 THOUSAND passengers used the Martinez station. 2. Martinez is the 34th BUSIEST Amtrak station IN THE COUNTRY! (Amtrak has over 500 stations nationwide.) 3. There is a 20-year plan for passenger rail for California. Mallery said, "You haven't seen anything yet!" 4. There are serious plans for HOURLY service to the San Joaquin Valley. 5. He closed by saying, "Amtrak is fully committed to Martinez and is ready to increase service."

TOM TORLAKSON, California State Senator, was the next speaker. He said: 1. "America is on track. California is on track. MARTINEZ is on track." 2. We need more money for transit. 3. We need a regional half-cent sales tax - to fund better transit. 4. There is a bill in the state legislature, "ACA4", which already has $1.3 billion in it from the state's General Fund, and THIS money SHOULD go to TRANSIT. 5. We need to build our dreams - for our children and grandchildren.

At one point in the ceremony, white doves were released, symbolizing peace. Very nice touch!

Later on, during one of the speeches, a loud metallic rattling and banging sound came over the loudspeakers. Turned out to be a ballast-regulator, which was working past the new depot, and its noise almost drowned out what the speaker was saying, because there was a microphone on the track side of the depot which I think is used to broadcast train arrival info to passengers in the parking areas. Sounded like aluminum cans being crushed at a recycling plant! Noise did not last more than a minute, but that minute seemed to take 20 minutes to end!

The man who spoke next was JEFF MORALES, head of the California Department of Transportation ("Caltrans"). You can find photos of Mr. Morales in any Caltrans newsletter on line at www.dot.ca.gov/ctnews/. His photo is about halfway down the page.

Morales made these points: 1. This station is a sound investment for the people of California. 2. Part of the depot project was to enhance 1 1/2 acres of wetland, near the depot. 3. In 2 years, there will be $200,000,000 for passenger rail in this state. This is a HUGE commitment. 4. No other governor has done what Gray Davis has done for rail transit. 5. The "Capitol" train is the fastest-growing passenger-rail line in the country! 6. "I want to thank all of you. Give yourselves a big hand." [End of Morales remarks.] Everyone applauded.

ART LLOYD, who retired a year or two ago from being Amtrak's Western US Sales Manager (do not remember his exact title} was there in the crowd, but not on the podium.

MIKE FURTNEY, UP Public Relations, was also there, but in the crowd, and was officially recognized by the Mayor of Martinez, along with other dignitaries.


Ribbon cutting at 11:07 am.

There was free food: hot dogs, chips, soda - all provided by the "Hot Dog Depot", across the street from the old depot.

Operation Lifesaver also had a table, with the usual give-aways: keychains, schedules, etc.

KKIQ-FM 101.7 was there, with a contest.

One nice touch this depot has is a balcony overlooking the tracks. A nice place to watch trains from. There was a nice exhibit of photographs of trains in a room upstairs in the depot, by an excellent photographer.

Passengers use THREE TRACKS. There is a wide center platform. We saw a number of freight trains pass while we were there. Martinez is a BUSY place for TRAINS!

We stayed for a couple of hours after the ceremony ended, and then went over to Benicia, to see an old depot, which we did not even know was there. We were told about it by Henry Bender, Assistant Editor of the "Ferroequinologist", the newsletter of the Central Coast Chapter of the NRHS. He was also at the ceremony. He is an expert on depots. It is the old BANTA depot. Banta is near Tracy, and is older than Tracy! It is a nice 2-story depot, and is being restored by local people. There are many nice views of the Straits and especially of the trains across the water from the area where the depot is. The former ferry pier is now a parking area for cars [

Click On Each Link To View Each Set Of Photos:
Set #1 / Set #2 / Set #3 / Set #4

Click here to read the Press Release!


From left to right: Steve Grande, Margaret Monroe, Dan Monroe, Ray Burns.
(This particular photo from a previous travelogue from 2001).

Photos and story provided courtesy of Margaret Monroe and Dan Monroe.


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