The old layout is gone. I've completed disassembling the old layout, and I'm cleaning and prepping the basement for the new layout. The target date to build the benchwork for the lower (staging) deck is February 15.
The staging deck will be much narrower than the upper deck. I've also determined that I will be able to build in a location for both a desk and a paint booth. The paint booth is key, since I really don't know where else I would be able to put one. As it turns out I'll be able to run the vent directly into the furnace room and outside from there.
Staging is based purely on the operations. I'll have some extra storage space behind one section of the staging for extra cars. This will probably entail at least two shelves for storage, each 12" deep x 10' long. They will not have track on them because I have determined that it would be more trouble than it's worth to try to put cars on rails.
I'll try to prepare as much as I can before that date, and I think it will be a pretty quick process. I may even be able to lay (or at least mock-up) the staging tracks themselves. The staging will be flex track and commercial turnouts.
More to come, but things are looking good to get the lower level complete by the end of February. I'm still shooting to get the layout in some reasonable stage of completion to host a layout tour at the New England Proto Meet this year. (It didn't make it...a few people got to see some benchwork in 2010...I'm shooting for 2011! 1/25/2011)