SHERIDAN — The BNSF Railway Company steam engine locomotive sitting across from the Historic Sheridan Inn will soon receive asbestos abatement and remediation services.
Sheridan City Council and Mayor Roger Miller voted to award a service contract to Wasatch Railroad Contractors in the amount of $179,000, paid up to $185,000 from the city’s general and Optional One-Cent Sales Tax funds.
BNSF Railway Company gifted the locomotive to the city of Sheridan in 1962. In the past, the local Rotary Club performed a cosmetic restoration on the train, but due to the poor state of the locomotive and presence of asbestos, staff began working with Wasatch Railroad Contractors to obtain potential solutions, according to a memo written by Sheridan Public Works Director Lane Thompson.
City staff presented the issue to mayor and council July 2019, and issued a request for proposals for asbestos abatement and remediation services late last year.
Following interviews with the two lowest bidders — Wasatch and Safetech Inc. ($168,000) — city staff chose Wasatch based on the company’s direct experience with historic locomotive restoration, according to the memo.
“Once we get the asbestos removed, then there’s no problem for private enterprise to come up with the money to do a restoration,” Councilor Thayer Shafer said during Monday’s regularly-scheduled meeting. “We have to do the asbestos remediation before anything else can be done or anyone else can do anything on it in the future.
“So, we need to get it out of the way, get it behind us and let the private sector get to work on raising the funds to go ahead with the further steps in the restoration,” he said.
Councilor Rich Bridger agreed, noting because of the city’s awareness of the apparent public health hazard, it needs to do its “due diligence and have that removed so we can move forward with restoration at a later date.”
Miller said he remembers growing up with questions regarding the future of the locomotive and its asbestos issue and agreed to the project.
Wasatch will remove parts of the engine that contain asbestos and replace them with hand-crafted replicas, according to the memo.
“This will keep the train mostly intact, more aesthetically pleasing and will prepare it for further restoration,” Thompson said in the memo.