FRA Signs Washington Union Station Expansion Project FEIS/ROD/FS4(f)E

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Preliminary artist’s impression of the Washington Union Station Expansion Project. Grimshaw illustration.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has signed the combined Final Environmental impact Statement (FEIS), Record Of Decision (ROD) and Final Section 4(f) Evaluation for Amtrak’s Washington Union Station Expansion Project proposed preferred alternative. The FEIS describes the impacts of the No Action Alternative and the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F) on the environment, and responds to comments received on the June 2020 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and the 2023 Supplemental DEIS (SDEIS)

A joint venture led by Grimshaw (designer) and including Beyer Blinder Belle (architect), Arup (engineering)  and VHB (transportation planning) developed the project.

FRA’s signing of the FEIS/ROD/FS4(f)E gives the project sponsor, Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), in collaboration with Amtrak, the ability to consider subsequent design phases. The expansion project “will ensure the continued preservation of the historic station, provide a new expanded and transformed multi-modal hub for the district adjacent to the historic station, and improved access to existing rail services, Metrorail, DC Streetcar and bus services,” Grimshaw said. “In addition, it will incorporate enhanced vehicle access and bicycle and pedestrian routes.”

At the project’s heart is a new adjacent train hall that connects the existing Beaux-Arts station, designed by Daniel Burnham and opened in 1907, to modernized tracks and platforms, a new bus facility, new passenger concourses and a below-ground vehicle facility, all part of the expansion program. The train hall, located to the north of the historic portions of the existing station, is defined by an expansive, clear-span roof structure with extensive skylights. This will become the circulation hub for the station, “enhancing passenger experience, access and mobility.”

FRA notes that “major distinctive elements of the Project’s Selected Alternative (Alternative F)” include:

  • Below-ground pick-up/drop-off and parking facility, including an approximately 65% reduction in parking capacity compared to the 2020 DEIS Preferred Alternative and a 77% reduction compared to the existing garage. 
  • Bus facility integrated with the H Street deck above the rail terminal and the east-west train hall that meets long-term intercity and tour/charter needs with 39 slips, and with available overflow space on the H Street deck capable of accommodating approximately 15 buses in times of very high demand, for a total capacity of 54 buses. 
  • Enhanced opportunities for a symmetrical public space at the H Street deck level commensurate with Washington Union Station’s historic and architectural significance, to be established by the developer of the adjacent privately-owned air rights. 
  • Ramps to access the pick-up/drop-off and parking facility on G Street NE and First Street NE.

“The civic significance and historic context of Washington’s Union Station is a fantastic springboard for the station expansion project,” said Vincent Chang, Managing Partner for North America at Grimshaw. “Our design concepts will maintain the historic station as a destination in the district, while incorporating the new project elements into fabric of the surrounding neighborhoods and deliver an improved passenger experience for 21st century travel.” 

“Union Station is a key terminal on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, the busiest passenger rail corridor in the United States and the district’s primary intercity bus terminal,” said Nikolas Dando-Haenisch, Principal at Grimshaw. “Our vision for the expansion project is focused on providing a modern, safe and high-quality multi-modal experience while increasing the station’s capacity.”  “Occupying the equivalent of two city blocks, the design for the station expansion builds on the civic importance of the historic station,” said Vivan Cheng, Associate at Grimshaw. “The design reinforces and respects Union Station’s status as one of the nation’s treasured transportation landmarks while also delivering a modern, integrated destination via the new H Street concourse linking neighborhoods to the east and west.” 

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