Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Amtrak unveils Washington Union Station plan

Central Concourse as viewed from the south showing waiting areas, reconstructed tracks and platforms, the first class lounge & retail opportunities. Central Concourse as viewed from the south showing waiting areas, reconstructed tracks and platforms, the first class lounge & retail opportunities. Amtrak

Amtrak has released a Master Plan to revitalize the terminal at Washington Union Station.

Developed in coordination with other stakeholders including U.S. Department of Transportation, Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, Virginia Railway Express, Maryland Transit Administration, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and Akridge, it lays the groundwork for an expanded and improved intermodal station that will increase capacity to accommodate future service expansion, deliver quality passenger experience and provide support to local and regional economic growth.

The Master Plan envisions dramatically improved facilities that are modern, safe and secure, which will accommodate three times as many passengers and twice as many trains, all within the same footprint and preserving Union Station's historic architectural design.

"Washington Union Station is an integral part of the Northeast transportation network, facing urgent capacity issues and a need to expand to support increasing ridership growth across all services," said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman. "This plan will transform the station into a world-class transportation hub to serve the region and the mobility needs of generations of passengers yet to come."

The heart of the plan is the creation of a new train shed that will welcome passengers to the nation's capital, bring natural light to station spaces and better organize the connections to Amtrak, commuter rail, transit and other transportation services. New passenger concourses, along with a series of new street entrances, will be seamlessly integrated with the existing station, enabling passengers and visitors to easily access the entire station complex and adjoining neighborhoods, while experiencing improved amenities and expanded retail opportunities.

The estimated cost for the Master Plan is between $6.5 and $7.5 billion. In addition to creating a world-class facility with ample capacity for future high-speed, intercity and commuter rail service growth, these investment levels would generate job creation, increased tax revenues and enhanced economic development.

Importantly, the plan also makes possible the accommodation of tracks, platforms and concourses to support a new Next Generation High-Speed Rail concourse below the existing station platforms to keep pace with the growth projections and plans outlined in the recently released The Amtrak Vision for the Northeast Corridor: 2012 Update Report. This future lower-level concourse could allow for a potential NextGen HSR extension south of Washington to connect with the proposed Southeast HSR Corridor.

The Master Plan creates a framework for progressive capital investment with a phased construction approach to be accomplished incrementally over 15 to 20 years, creating an improved station that will benefit millions of rail passengers, transit riders, area workers and residents, tourists and the public. It is estimated to generate a total of $14.3 billion in regional economic benefit through direct construction expenditures and other related economic impact.

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