- Plans for a new $50 million Amtrak concourse at Washington, DC’s Union Station are underway, and the passenger rail company said riders are in for twice the space and a more streamlined experience. Amtrak is footing most of the bill for the new concourse, which will be open by 2019 or 2020, according to The Washington Post.
- Amtrak said it will move one wall of the station to create an additional 20,000 square feet of area for new restrooms, boarding gates, seating, a police station and a glass-walled Amtrak ClubAcela lounge with a view of the tracks.
- The station serves 37 million passengers a year, and the dark, tight, difficult-to-navigate quarters of the current concourse have long been a source of complaints, according to The Post.
Stephen Gardner, executive vice president of Amtrak, said the new concourse is part of a larger overhaul of Union Station that includes an overhead development called Burnham Place. "This work and other planned improvements will transform Union Station’s capacity and performance, befitting the vital regional gateway and civic hub the Station has become since its redevelopment in 1988," Gardner said in a statement.
Because there are no current plans to stop rail traffic through the station during construction, passengers will have to co-exist with crews who are scheduled to start work on moving mechanical systems this summer. Major construction, according to the Post, should start in spring 2017.
Amtrak said designers and contractors have their work cut out for them, as the surrounding structures, including a parking garage and access roads directly above the concourse, will make adding space a challenge. "This space is extremely constrictive on all levels for what we’re trying to do," Amtrak project director David Zaidain told The Post.
Washington, DC isn't the only city preparing for a major train station overhaul. In January, as part of his sweeping $100 billion state infrastructure program, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his backing of a $3 billion Penn Station renovation project and an overhaul of the landmark post office building next door into a station concourse. Cuomo said the refurbished Penn Station will connect local airports, commuter rail systems and major area roads with the larger New York region.