Union Pacific Railroad intends to demolish last bit of transcontinental history
Because it “lives” in legal limbo, the Union Pacific Railroad can legally demolish an Oakland Landmark building, one constructed in 1874, shortly after the completion of the 1869 Transcontinental Railroad. The building was declared an Oakland Landmark in 2001. But that will not save this un-reinforced brick building from demolition.
The railroad claims superior rights under the federal Surface Transportation Board that trumps states rights to historic preservation. That’s a clouded claim. There is no forum in the Surface Transportation Board (yes, it’s the Surf Board for short) for historic preservation of buildings.
The railroad can either acquiesce to local preservation laws or assert its federal rights and then find itself forever bound to whatever decisions the Surf Board might find. For the railroad, no decision is palatable. Everyone’s best guess is that they will demolish it and the railroad hopes the issue goes away.
The issue will not go away. The railroad can destroy an 1874 brick structure and it’s gone for good. But their legal right to do such damage will be questioned by preservationists. You can still see this brick building in the UPRR switching yards from I-880 or from BART. For the next couple of days.