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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
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DC Mud


Train shed looking southwest Amtrak

$7 Billion Union Station Master plan Released

Posted by Amanda Wilson on 7/28/2012 07:17:00 AM


Interior view of the new train shed

Amtrak released details this week of a much-talked-about $7 billion plan for Union Station's tracks, platforms, concourses, and parking that will dramatically overhaul the space. Under the Union Station Redeveloment Corporation, Union Station is already undergoing a renovation of its Grand Hall.

In a move officials acknowledged was belated, they said the plan would help the nation's capital catch up with other parts of the world with high-speed rail service. The plan, they said, would eventually triple the station's passenger capacity and double the train service over the next 20 years. The plan goes hand in hand with plans for a 1.5 billion dollar project by Akridge development, Amtrak's private partner in the project, to develop the air rights over the train tracks into a $1.5 billion mixed-use project called Burnham Place.


Greenway looking north along First St.

Amtrak and Akridge, Amtrak's private partner on the project, released the master plan this week in a press conference attended by city glitterati, including embattled mayor Vincent Gray.

Burhnam Place, named after Union Station's original architect Daniel Burnham, is part of Amtrak's master plan, and will be developed by Akridge and architectural firm Shalom Baranes. Developers plan, over the next 15 years, to build a 3-million square-foot mixed use development over the train tracks.


Historic control tower into restaurant, Courtesy: Akridge

The plan envisions 500 hotel rooms, 100,000 square feet of retail, and 1,300 residential units built on a concrete platform over the tracks and supported columns placed throughout the rail yard. Akridge went through years of technical negotiations with Amtrak before deciding on a construction plan, and the Smart Growth Alliance and Urban Land Institute (ULI) have both voiced support for the project.

Developers emphasize that the project will feature elements that enhance public space and amenities. One such feature includes a 1.5 mile elevated greenway with a bike lane along the west side of the station that will link the NoMa neighborhoods with Union Station and the Metro and connect to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.

Plans also call for a "grand plaza" fronting both sides of H Street that will lead into a brand new Train Hall in what developers say will be "a grand northern entrance to Union Station."


Plan overview. Image Courtesy of Akridge.
Blue represents office space,
Beige is residential,
Green / yellow is naturally lit space, and
Brown is hotel space.
Red circles are vertical connections,
Red arrows are station entrances.
 

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Brotha
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That looks like nice. But's gonna be a helluva a job for the district to undertake. The pricetag would have in shock as a budget director or a project manager.
 

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To get this project off to the best possible start, let's please wait at least until after Vincent Gray leaves office.
 

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"In a move officials acknowledged was belated, they said the plan would help the nation's capital catch up with other parts of the world with high-speed rail service. The plan, they said, would eventually triple the station's passenger capacity and double the train service over the next 20 years. "

This is really troubling. I think priorities need to be re-ordered. Yes, 7 billion needs to be spent on trains, but it should be toward making them run better, and that would be all over the northeast corridor. DC already has a train station that rivals St Peter's Basilica. Instead, we need to be thinking about 7 billion worth of better tracks, more tracks, faster trains and improvements in stations that are not already palaces for the Pharaohs. Building a bigger and more spectacular Union Station? The grouch, who's spent time on slow trains, stations with no bathrooms, waiting for other trains to pass, says that this would help DC to catch up with the world, but at the expense of leaving other cities even further behind.
 

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"In a move officials acknowledged was belated, they said the plan would help the nation's capital catch up with other parts of the world with high-speed rail service. The plan, they said, would eventually triple the station's passenger capacity and double the train service over the next 20 years. "

This is really troubling. I think priorities need to be re-ordered. Yes, 7 billion needs to be spent on trains, but it should be toward making them run better, and that would be all over the northeast corridor. DC already has a train station that rivals St Peter's Basilica. Instead, we need to be thinking about 7 billion worth of better tracks, more tracks, faster trains and improvements in stations that are not already palaces for the Pharaohs. Building a bigger and more spectacular Union Station? The grouch, who's spent time on slow trains, stations with no bathrooms, waiting for other trains to pass, says that this would help DC to catch up with the world, but at the expense of leaving other cities even further behind.
The station does need to be made bigger , its overcrowded and overcapacity... South Station in Boston is getting something similar although the cost is 1 billion.. The Cost does set off alarm bells , but I have no problems with the plans... If I can recall correct , the 7 billion will be part private , and the projects in the DC-Maryland region will be done at the same time.
 

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The station does need to be made bigger , its overcrowded and overcapacity... South Station in Boston is getting something similar although the cost is 1 billion.. The Cost does set off alarm bells , but I have no problems with the plans... If I can recall correct , the 7 billion will be part private , and the projects in the DC-Maryland region will be done at the same time.
I agree that Union needs improvements, basically in pedestrian flow. As it is, debarking from a Marc train in the morning (their biggest individual rush moments) is a huge moving mob, but what they need is mainly improvements that get people from the trains to the street and to the subway. 7 Billion must be a government price; I just can't imagine how they could spend so much. I'd venture a guess that a half billion spent at Union and a half billion more spent on stations in Maryland would cure the moving mob problem. After all, everybody that gets off a Marc train had to get on, mostly in a small number of stations between Baltimore and DC or between Western Maryland and DC, so those stations, which are mostly just uncovered platforms, need improvement to bring them up to what's needed to deal with the increase in ridership. Maybe the other 6 billion will go into improving the inlaid marble floors and renaissance statuary in the building. Alternately, they could build more tracks and buy bigger, faster trains? Separate Marc tracks from Amtrak and CSX to relieve the stress on them and allow Marc to run more reliably? Separate tracks would be a huge improvement because things that happen on Amtrak, often far away, push back on Marc trains, which have to take the hit when Amtrak backs up or when something goes wrong on the CSX tracks that run the Camden Line. In addition, getting Amtrak in and our more efficiently would help them.
 

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This project isn't close to starting. The reason for the high costs, not saying it's still not too high, is because of the significant engineering challenges associated with building new, additional tracks, moving the garage, building a new garage, and building a platform over the tracks for some sort of air-right development. You can't just shut off all train traffic, so there are also some challenges and costs due to the phasing of construction. There's also 3 million square feet of commercial/retail/residential development. So, these costs add up, but $7 billion is outrageous.
 

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This project isn't close to starting. The reason for the high costs, not saying it's still not too high, is because of the significant engineering challenges associated with building new, additional tracks, moving the garage, building a new garage, and building a platform over the tracks for some sort of air-right development. You can't just shut off all train traffic, so there are also some challenges and costs due to the phasing of construction. There's also 3 million square feet of commercial/retail/residential development. So, these costs add up, but $7 billion is outrageous.
I respectfully disagree. The amount of money is necessary if you want a first class station. With that type of mentality, the original station would not have been built. Let's think BIG, let's do BIG Things like Eisenhower and FDR!!!!
We deserve the best in the Nations Capital and every city around the country. Just take some money from the bloated Defense Department and spend it on people here at home...
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One Nation, Under God, Indivisible...
With Liberty and Justice for ALL
 

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I respectfully disagree. The amount of money is necessary if you want a first class station. With that type of mentality, the original station would not have been built. Let's think BIG, let's do BIG Things like Eisenhower and FDR!!!!
We deserve the best in the Nations Capital and every city around the country. Just take some money from the bloated Defense Department and spend it on people here at home...
_____________________
One Nation, Under God, Indivisible...
With Liberty and Justice for ALL
The problem with thinking big sometimes is that you lose all sight of value. Thinking big is good, but we should always try and cut waste as much as we can or else the political will to implement big plans will not be there.
 

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The problem with thinking big sometimes is that you lose all sight of value. Thinking big is good, but we should always try and cut waste as much as we can or else the political will to implement big plans will not be there.
Show me the waste!!!!! With the mentality so prevelant today, the interstate highway system would not have been built nor would Union Station itself 100 years ago.
Let's do big things again and not cut corners for an inferior product that won't stand the test of time...
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One Nation, Under God, Indivisible...
 

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Show me the waste!!!!! With the mentality so prevelant today, the interstate highway system would not have been built nor would Union Station itself 100 years ago.
Let's do big things again and not cut corners for an inferior product that won't stand the test of time...
____________________
One Nation, Under God, Indivisible...
There's waste in a lot of things we do. Not saying that it can all disappear, but we should at least try to do things as efficient as possible.

You say that the $7 billion dollar tag is what it costs to design and build a first class station, but if you look at similar projects in Western Europe, you'll see that even they do it for cheaper. We need to be more cost-competitive in building these kinds of projects so we can get more of them.
 

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We need to be more cost-competitive in building these kinds of projects so we can get more of them.
And this is the debate we should be having.

I think there's a lot that could be learned from Spain. It would be nice if there was a litmus test (akin to how an environmental impact study is required) to determine where costs can be reduced. If that makes sense? Kind of like a general blueprint to how to go about these projects...
 
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