It is the first time since 1971 that the public has been able to walk through the historic 27,000-square-foot waiting room that welcomed immigrants settling in Minnesota, orphans sent westward to new homes, soldiers departing or returning from war, travelers, redcaps and porters who worked at the Union Depot and many more. The last passenger train left Union Depot in 1971 and in 1974, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2013, Amtrak trains will start arriving and departing from Union Depot and in 2014, Central Corridor Light Rail, the Green Line, will serve Union Depot on Fourth Street.
Restoration of the near century-old depot, located on a 33-acre site along the Mississippi River, included returning its original 1920s color scheme through complete repainting and plaster restoration of the waiting room and head house; reconstruction of the carriageway and returning the Fourth Street entrance to its original design. In addition, new construction involved rebuilding the train deck and tracks and building a new multilevel passenger drop-off entrance with ticket and baggage counters.
Mortenson, design-build contractor for Union Depot, with URS Corporation and HGA Architects, worked to assure that all aspects of the project met historic guidelines of the State Historical Preservation Office and Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission.
RCRRA executives are planning a series of celebrations in 2013 to mark milestones of the return of Union Depot as a regional transportation hub.