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Amtrak plans to transform Washington’s Union Station

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Amtrak recently released a master plan, developed with HOK and Parsons Brinckerhoff, to revitalize Washington Union Station. It envisions a modern intermodal center with increased capacity and new commercial development The plan was developed in collaboration with a private developer,  Washington,D.C.-based Akridge,  and several regional transportation agencies.

Designed by architect Daniel Burnham, Union Station opened in 1907. A national landmark, the station is one of the country’s busiest multimodal transportation hubs. It currently operates beyond capacity, serving 100,000 passenger trips per day on Amtrak and commuter trains, Metrorail and buses.

The new master plan revitalizes the historic station, triples passenger capacity and doubles the number of trains the station can handle.  It also positions Union Station as an integral part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor investment plan by upgrading it to accommodate additional level of tracks and concourses below the existing track level. These changes will support increasing commuter and intercity rail service with room for future expansion of high-speed rail. At the heart of the plan is a new train shed that will welcome passengers to the nation’s capital. HOK’s design integrates new passenger concourses with passenger amenities and a series of new street entrances.

Another cornerstone of the plan for Akridge is Burnham Place, named after the project’s original architect. While still in the planning stages, early projections call for a 3-million square-foot, mixed-use development that will create a new urban neighborhood in downtown D.C. Built atop the rail yards north of the station, the project would include 1.5 million square feet of office space, more than 1,300 residential units, 500 hotel rooms, and 100,000 square feet of retail space. It also will feature a park or greenway along the west side of the station with pedestrian walking paths and bike lanes, connecting the NoMa (North of Massachusetts) neighborhood with Union Station and the Metro.

The estimated cost for the station reconstruction and terminal capacity expansion ― which would be phased in over 15 to 20 years ― ranges from $6.5 to $7.5 billion in 2012 dollars. It’s estimated that the project would generate a total of $14.3 billion in economic benefit to the D.C. region over the next 15 years. 

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the long-range transportation and economic future of the Washington region and the Northeast mega-region by equipping Union Station for its second century of outstanding service to the traveling public,” Wayne Striker, a principal in HOK’s New York office,  said in a statement.

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