Congrats to Amtrak on New Union Station Plan

Post date: Jul 28, 2012 8:27:33 PM

I was very pleased to see Amtrak (as lead agency) adopt a first-rate master plan for upgrading Washington’s Union Station. The plan is both visionary and eminently practical. It works for transportation (both intercity rail and all the modes gathering there); it works architecturally; and it works as a catalyst for high-quality urban development.

At a time when so many agencies have assumed a defensive crouch, it is refreshing to see Amtrak and a collection of other agencies put forward a plan for a “world-class transportation hub worthy of a great nation.” They have expressly looked at the great new and refurbished European stations for inspiration. And they have designed in capacity not just for the next round of expansion but for future expansion that should serve well in to the 21st century.

The planners understand that Union Station is not just a train station, but also serves Metro, buses, taxis, bicycles, pedestrians, and (soon) streetcars. The future Union Station will also serve (and stimulate) urban redevelopment in the neighborhood and serve (and stimulate) sustainable development in the entire Northeast mega-region.

The first priority, thankfully, will be improvements to “Concourse A”, the area where passengers now crowd into inadequate spaces to board trains. Those of us that are frequent Amtrak customers will appreciate any relief we can get there!

The $7 Billion plan won’t happen overnight, but adopting the master plan is the first step in getting there. Well done, Amtrak!