What was old will be new again.
Passenger train service may return as soon as August to the restored downtown Depot, where grand old steam and diesel locomotives once regularly muscled into and out of town with gleaming silver coaches in tow.Better still, the passenger service will be housed in the main concourse, rather than a smaller part of the building that served African American patrons during the Jim Crow era.
Originally opened open for passenger service in 1930, the historic landmark closed in 1979, when cost-conscious Amtrak officials abandoned downtown for a modest passenger station on Oakland Avenue. (The kindest thing you could say about that facility is that in 74 years it will not be historic, if it's still standing at all; it simply will be old.)
There is revenue attached to the Amtrak deal as well. The state will lease the 16,000-square-foot terminal area for $105,000 a year.
Some see the change of plans for passenger service as good news. Others view it as a setback; city officials had hoped to lure a restaurant or other private tenant to the space.
"I'm afraid we're going to see that big, beautiful hall with only 15 to 20 people a night, but otherwise it's going to be empty," Mayor Keith Holliday said at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.
But the mayor overlooks the fact that six passenger trains serve Greensboro per day. And that prospects for more traffic will grow if the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor, which will provide faster trains running on upgraded tracks, becomes reality.
Finally, if there is any lesson to be learned at all in the saga of The Depot, it is the value of patience and foresight.
The only reason the restored complex exists at all is because city leaders had the presence of mind to keep it standing and to seek federal funding to restore it.
Let's not lose our train of thought, Mr. Mayor.