Railroad Depot Grand Staircase
Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Owner Poplar Bluff Historic Depot Restoration Corp.
Lead Design Firm Smith & Co.
Contractor Concrete Strategies LLC
Civil & Structural Engineer Smith & Co.
The Poplar Bluff Historic Depot’s grand staircase was placed on the National Historic Register in 1994, and although it greatly deteriorated over the years, it remained an active thoroughfare and tourist attraction.
The staircase serves as a gateway between the 1910 historic depot and downtown Poplar Bluff, Mo. Along with the station, it was deeded by Union Pacific to the Poplar Bluff Historic Depot Restoration Corp. in 2013. Through local efforts and the Missouri Dept. of Transportation, the restoration corporation was able to secure the more than $500,000 required for reconstruction of the staircase.
With no original blueprints available, the contractor had to match the original construction design using only measurements taken from the deteriorated staircase. The project team went to great lengths to create molds and assess proper grade for each piece in order to deliver a high-quality product that matched the original design and artwork.
Concrete Strategies, the prime contractor, wanted to remake a staircase that the city could be proud of. The project team says it also hoped the project would help spark efforts to complete the remaining restoration of the railroad depot.
Through the efforts of a local engineering firm, design plans for reconstruction were submitted to the Secretary of the Interior. The plans were approved by federal and state historical commissions.
One of the critical factors for the project’s success was the use of high-performance concrete. Although it added more expense, it allowed the overall details to be exposed without much patchwork. The concrete also enabled crews to deliver the project with fewer concrete pours by allowing for the concrete to flow more freely around forms. Custom reveal strips and molds were created off of measurements from the original staircase wall reveals and balusters.
Crews completed the project in January after breaking ground in June 2015, amassing 4,802 worker-hours with no lost-time accidents and a zero OSHA recordable incident rate. The team recognized early that the project would present safety challenges and took steps to deal with elevation changes, ground conditions and winter weather.