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Iconic Rio Grande Depot sign being replaced

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The iconic Rio Grande Depot sign is being replaced.

Installation of a new, two-sided sign took place Monday at the historic depot. The process is expected to take about six weeks.

It will face east and west, welcoming visitors arriving in Salt Lake City from the Transmodal Hub and Interstate-15, while still serving as a landmark within the downtown Salt Lake City area. 

The Rio Grande Depot is a former train station, constructed in 1910 by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad. 

The new sign will be the third on the roof of the historic building, located at 300 South Rio Grande Street. 

When the station was originally built it didn’t have a rooftop sign until 1940. That first sign was tri-faced and welcomed visitors from the east, west, and north sides of the building. 

The current Rio Grande neon sign was installed in the late 1950s to replace the Denver and Western Rio Grande sign. 

Maintenance issues have plagued the sign for several years causing parts to be replaced that were not easy to locate. 

The frame holding the sign has dilapidated and sign contractors say they will not allow crews to walk on the catwalks to accomplish repairs. 

The two-sided design was submitted after more than two years of review and analysis. That included a Historic Preservation Compliance application from the Utah Division of Facilities & Construction Management in early January 2019. The Salt Lake City Planning Division approved the two-sided design in April 2019. 

The Depot was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 and purchased by the State of Utah for $1.00 in 1977. While serving as the Amtrak station from 1986 to 1999 with the Western Pacific portion of the sign being removed. 

Crews say they anticipate the completion of the new sign on October 11th, 2019.

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