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Racine station regains elegance

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Racine train station reborn

Start of Summer, 2005 brings initial evidence that Racine's grand dame of passenger train travel, after decades of subpar maintenance and even total neglect, has found a champion and a nurturing bevy of craftsmen to restore the building, to revive and remake it for 21st century uses.

Winter eased during January, 2006, but indoor work at the State Street station prevails despite the unexpected mild temperatures outdoors. K-R-M commuter trains will stop here once major improvments to the Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee track and right of way are matched with new commuter trainsets – all far more costly than a single station project.

Racine Metro Transit Center

Remnants of roof atop passenger canopy at left contrasts with recently re-roofed canopy and adjoining station, which sports copper flashing agleam in the midday winter sunlight.

In late February, one month after the photo above, Racine officials proudly toured the renovated station interior with visiting Calif. Capitol Corridor managing director Eugene Skorpowski, whose 170 miles of commuter rail operations link the Sacramento capital of the nation's most populous state with its San Francisco Bay and Silicon Valley cities. A Journal Times article at the time described a return to original orange color scheme indoors and refitting hardwood and terrazzo floori, which will open near the end of March, 2006 for bus riders changing buses at the adjacent Metro Transit Center bus lanes.

The same Journal Times article mentioned Mr. Skoropowski presenting his expert observations to the audience attending a regular Sustainable Racine assemblage during supper hour on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2006. A follow up article reflected the enthused audience recption of Mr. Skoropowski and ongoing favor for implementing the KRM commuter train plan adopted in August, 2003 by a SEWRPC technical advisory committee.

Key points cited during Mr. Skoropowski's optimistic comparison of Racine now and a comparable Massachussetts city striving for economic rebirth a quarter-century ago appeared in a Michael Burke column the following Sunday, March 5.

Grand dame of existing train stations anchors Racine transit revival
October 14, 2006

Wisconsin Assemby Rep. John Lehman may have best described the attendees at re-dedication of Racine's State Street train station on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2006, when he observed that key policymakers of today, neighborhood revitalizers past and present, plus early boosters of Kenosha-Racine-Milwaukee commuter trains and others eager for community renewal had found a common ground within the cavernous waiting room. Altogether, perhaps fifty fans of the station and its various roles in various lives gathered at mid-morning to hear Wisc. DOT Sec. Frank Busalacchi pay homage to the building and its place in Racine's history, to the contribution it will make to modern regional transit, to prospective KRM commuter trains and the broad support for future growth which the station gives focus to.

Almost cavernous in size, the Racine train station on State Street returned to daily use after WisDOT Sec. Frank Busalacchi and Racine city transit planner Mike Glasheen led a series of speakers honoring the workmanship of building restorers and the original crafters.

State Assembly Rep. Bob Turner, always a 'spark plug' speaking to any audience, ignites smiles throughout the crowd enjoying the warmth of the newly open station which will shelter bus riders for several years until KRM riders join them when trains begin operation.

Community-minded leaders infuse fresh energy into their city of Racine, and they radiated their expectations for growth and renewed prosperity as each spoke about the station, its past place and renewed role in making Racine prosperous for decades to come.
Alderman Shakoor, II began on an explanatory note for wearing a NFL team's logo that was not of Green Bay and its Packers. As they did throughout the event, the crowd nodded in understanding and accepted his explanation, which was followed by a brief sketch of how much the surrounding neighborhoods are also making strides to betterment, as this citywide symbol of renewal has. Rep. Lehman and Common Council president Ald. Sandy Weidner each spoke in similar terms of ambitions for their city's brightening future.

Rep. John LehmanCommon Council President Sandy WeidnerAld. Q.A. Shakoor II

Secretary Busalacchi, Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation, spoke first to an audience signifying the diverse cross-section of train riders typical for commuter trains. KRM expects to serve all riders well and fairly, opening new jobs to Racinians and connecting talents and expertise in other cities with Racine jobs. Belle Urban System and Wisconsin Coach already afford local and inter-county transit for trips within their respective markets. Subsequent speakers remarked on the workmanship of the restorers, on the travel legacy coming to new life on this occasion, and on the interior's remarkable survival despite much neglect for many, many years.

Corinne Reid-Owens honored with facility name change
December 2010

(Racine, WI) – Although KRM commuter trains do not pass by the renovated Grand Dame of stations, the modern partner facility for buses enjoys steady use by Racinians and bus travelers at its well-placed location one mile west of a resurgent downtown on State Hwy 38. Now, four years after the station was re-dedicated beside the modern bus hub, a grand lady termed a "mover and shaker" in civil rights for more than a half-century has been honored with its re-naming.

The Corinne Reid-Owens Transit Center on State Street at the Union Pacific RR track, one block east of Memorial Drive, was dedicated December 11 by Alderman Q.A. Shkoor II, who was reported by Racine Journal Times declaring, "She's been an advocate for human rights, and a champion of the cause of quality education for all."

Enduring station and community leader do indeed pair well among historic Racine people and places.

View B.U.S. center emerge nearby, 2003-05
Visit Belle Urban System for Racine transit information | B.U.S. transit center, station history page
Visit Sustainable Racine site for overview of long-range, community-wide goals and projects
Visit Downtown Racine Corp. site for details about the city's central business district, which Chicago & Northwestern Rwy. once enlivened at its station on State Street, one mile west of Lake Michigan
Visit Wisconsin DOT page announcing Dec. 3, 2003 its fund reallocation to sustain planned station renovation
Visit the official regional planning commission pages for KRM trains

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