Washington Union Station Expansion Project: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the Washington Union Station Expansion Project (Project)?
The Project includes reconstructing and realigning tracks and platforms; developing new passenger concourses; improving multimodal transportation facilities; and improving and expanding other supporting facilities.
Who is the Project Sponsor?
Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) is the Project Sponsor responsible for implementing the Project through final design and construction, in coordination with Amtrak. USRC is also responsible for Project mitigation measures.
What is the purpose of the Project?
The purpose of the Project is to support current and future growth in rail service and operational needs; achieve compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and emergency egress requirements; facilitate intermodal travel; provide a positive customer experience; enhance integration with the adjacent neighborhoods, businesses, and planned land uses; sustain the Station’s economic viability; and support continued preservation and use of the historic station building.
Why is the Project needed?
The Project is needed to improve rail capacity, reliability, safety, efficiency, accessibility, and security, for both current and future long-term railroad operations at this historic station. Many station facilities are currently at or exceed their practical capacity. Additional growth in rail service and ridership will quickly push the Station beyond its capacity unless substantial efforts are made to accommodate the growth. Union Station’s passenger facilities, including platforms, waiting areas, and customer support services are not adequate to serve existing or projected future passenger demand for Amtrak and commuter rail. Multimodal operations and access are frequently constrained today and will be more so in the future. The layout and siting of the Station restrict connectivity with neighbors and need to be enhanced. Finally, to provide for a sustainable future for Union Station’s preservation and maintenance, the Station needs to remain financially viable.
What is Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC)?
USRC is a non-profit organization that acts as the landlord for Union Station and is its public steward. USRC is committed to working closely with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which owns the Union Station building, to ensure the preservation of this essential historic transportation facility. For more information, visit www.usrcdc.com.
What is USRC’s role in the Project?
USRC, along with Amtrak, is one of the two Project Proponents. USRC and Amtrak developed concept plans for the Station expansion. The concept plans were submitted to FRA to support the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process.
USRC will also be the Project Sponsor. This means that USRC will be responsible for implementing the Project through final design and construction, in coordination with Amtrak. USRC is also responsible for Project mitigation measures.
What is Amtrak?
Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving 500 destinations across the country and portions of Canada. It is the nation's only high-speed intercity passenger rail provider and is also the operator of choice for state-supported corridor services in 15 states and for four commuter rail agencies. Amtrak owns the rail infrastructure (tracks, platforms, and supporting facilities) at Union Station and is the majority owner of the Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail network between Washington, DC, and Boston, MA.
What is Amtrak’s role in this Project?
Amtrak, along with USRC, is one of the two Project Proponents. USRC and Amtrak developed concept plans for the Station expansion. The concept plans were submitted to FRA to support the EIS process.
Amtrak is responsible for planning improvements to the tracks and platforms at the Station. Both Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) and Virginia Railway Express (VRE) have maintenance and/or operating agreements with Amtrak to provide commuter rail service at Union Station and along portions of the Northeast Corridor. For more information, visit www.nec.amtrak.com.
What is the Federal Railroad Administration?
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is one of ten agencies within the U.S. Department of Transportation concerned with intermodal transportation. FRA’s mission is to enable the safe, reliable, and efficient movement of people and goods for a strong America, now and in the future. FRA is the owner of Union Station. For more information about FRA, visit https://railroads.dot.gov.
What is FRA’s Role in this Project?
FRA, as owner of Union Station, is the lead Federal agency preparing the EIS to evaluate the Project’s potential impacts to the human and natural environment.
What is the 2012 Union Station Master Plan?
The 2012 Union Station Master Plan was a vision plan created by USRC, Amtrak, and Akridge (a private developer). USRC and Amtrak subsequently proposed the Project to address the intermodal transportation needs at Union Station.
How does the Project relate to the 2012 Union Station Master Plan?
The 2012 Union Station Master Plan was an aspirational vision and planning effort, without public involvement, that helped Amtrak, Akridge, and USRC define goals for long-term expansion of the Station and near-term improvements to passenger facilities.
The Project was developed by USRC and Amtrak in a robust public EIS process led by FRA. The Project also was coordinated with numerous agencies and in accordance with applicable laws.
During the Project EIS process, certain elements of the 2012 Union Station Master Plan vision were determined to be impractical or inconsistent with other relevant policy and planning goals. The Project would implement the 2012 Union Station Master Plan objective for an improved Station that meets multimodal transportation needs, enhances the customer experience, and facilitates future air rights development.
What is Akridge?
Akridge is a private development company that owns a portion of the air rights over the tracks and platforms at Union Station. The United States General Services Administration (GSA) administered and approved the sale of the air rights to Akridge in 2006. Through this transaction, Akridge owns an approximately 14-acre area starting 70 to 80 feet above the rail terminal from north of the historic Station to K Street NE.
The areas currently occupied by the Claytor Concourse, vehicular ramps, and Union Station’s bus and parking facility remain in Federal ownership.
What is Burnham Place?
Burnham Place is a private development project, proposed by Akridge, to be built within the air rights Akridge owns over the tracks and platforms at Union Station. Burnham Place is a separate and independent project from the Project. It does not involve Federal funding or require Federal approvals that would subject it to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Akridge is solely responsible for ensuring that Burnham Place undergoes any required review and regulatory process under applicable District of Columbia laws and regulations. For more information on the private development project please visit www.burnhamplace.com.
What is the NEPA process?
The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) established a national policy and framework to ensure the potential human and natural environmental impacts of major Federal actions are evaluated prior to decision making. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)’s actions relating to the Washington Union Station Expansion Project (the Project) may include issuing approvals or providing funding in the future for design or construction. The Project alternatives include the potential for redevelopment of Federally owned air rights. If such development does occur in the future, FRA may be involved with the transfer, lease, or disposal of this property as a separate Federal action. Therefore, the Project must go through the NEPA process. FRA is the lead Federal agency preparing the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Project.
What is an EIS?
An EIS is prepared to document a Federal agency’s NEPA analysis for major actions. The Project EIS evaluates the reasonable range of alternatives and the potential impacts of those alternatives on the human and natural environment. As an essential part of this evaluation, FRA takes into consideration input from the public and applicable Federal, state, and local agencies throughout the EIS process.
What is the Project’s Preferred Alternative?
In July 2022, FRA designated Alternative F as the Preferred Alternative for the Project.
Why did FRA prepare a Supplemental DEIS?
In 2020 FRA published a Draft EIS (DEIS). The DEIS evaluated six Action Alternatives (Alternatives A through E and Alternative A-C). FRA received considerable comments on the 2020 DEIS and paused the NEPA process to consider those comments. During the pause, Alternative F (Preferred Alternative) was developed in response to the comments received on the 2020 DEIS.
Paragraph 13 Section (e) of FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (64 Federal Register [FR] 28545, May 26, 1999, as updated by 78 FR 2713, January 14, 2013) states that:
“Where, in the development of an FRA action for which a draft or final EIS has been prepared, a significant change is made which would alter environmental impacts, or where significant new information becomes available regarding the environmental impacts of such an FRA action, the Program Office shall prepare an appropriate supplement to the original draft or final EIS for that portion of the FRA action affected.”
In accordance with this requirement, FRA prepared a Supplemental DEIS (SDEIS) to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the new Preferred Alternative (Alternative F). The SDEIS was made available for public review on May 12, 2023. All comments on the SDEIS must be received by July 6, 2023.
After public review of the SDEIS, FRA intends to prepare a Final EIS (FEIS) addressing the substantive comments received on the DEIS and the SDEIS, and issue a Record of Decision (ROD) that would announce FRA’s decision(s) regarding the Project in early 2024.
Who is the Project Sponsor?
Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) is the Project Sponsor. USRC will be responsible for implementing the Project through final design and construction, in coordination with Amtrak. As Project Sponsor, USRC will also be responsible for implementing the measures proposed in the SDEIS to avoid, minimize, or mitigate the adverse impacts of the Project.
What are the Cooperating Agencies?
As Lead Agency, FRA invited other agencies having jurisdiction by law or agencies with special expertise on resources potentially affected by the Project to be Cooperating Agencies for the EIS. Those agencies that have accepted cooperating agency status are:
- National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC): NCPC is the Federal government’s central planning agency for the National Capital Region. The Commission provides overall planning guidance for Federal land and buildings in the region by reviewing the design of Federal and certain local projects, overseeing long-range planning for future development, and monitoring capital investment by Federal agencies.
- Federal Transit Administration (FTA): FTA is a modal administration within the United States Department of Transportation. FTA’s purview is public transportation and transit systems.
- District Department of Transportation (DDOT): DDOT manages and maintains the District of Columbia’s (District’s) publicly owned transportation infrastructure and is the owner of the District’s street network. DDOT has jurisdiction over rights-of-way in the District, including travel lanes, on-street parking, sidewalk space, and public space between the property line and the edge of the sidewalk nearest to the property line. DDOT is leading projects to replace the H Street Bridge, creating a need for coordination between DDOT and FRA as part of planning for the Project.
Through the publication of the 2020 DEIS, the National Park Service (NPS) was also identified as a Cooperating Agency. On January 24, 2023, NPS notified FRA that the agency would no longer serve as a Cooperating Agency. The Project would not affect any resources under the jurisdiction of NPS.
How does the EIS address impacts on nearby neighborhoods?
The EIS considers and evaluates the Project’s potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on the areas adjacent to and surrounding Union Station. The resource topic areas that are addressed include: air quality; water resources and water quality; natural ecological systems; noise and vibration; energy resources; greenhouse gas emissions and resilience; solid waste disposal and hazardous materials; aesthetics and visual quality; transportation; land use, land planning, and property; social and economics; environmental justice; public health, the elderly, and persons with disabilities; public safety and security; parks and recreation; and cultural resources. For each of these main resource topic areas, FRA defined appropriate local and regional study area(s) to ensure that the potential impacts are fairly and accurately described in the EIS.
What is Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act?
Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (54 U.S.C. 300101 et seq.), along with its implementing regulations (36 CFR Part 800) requires that Federal agencies, like FRA, consider the effects of the projects they fund or approve on historic properties and afford the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP), other consulting parties, and the public the opportunity to comment. The Section 106 process assesses the potential effects of the Project on historic properties. An adverse effect is found when a project may alter the characteristics of a historic property that qualify it for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), affecting both the significance and integrity of the property. The goal of Section 106 is to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects to historic properties from Federal projects. For further details on the Section 106 process please see the ACHP website https://www.achp.gov/protecting-historic-properties/section-106-process/introduction-section-106 and http://www.achp.gov/work106.html.
Are there historic properties associated with the Project?
Yes, historic properties are associated with the Project. Due to the potential for the Project to affect historic properties, FRA is conducting a review in compliance with the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and 36 CFR Part 800.
In March 2023, FRA determined the Project would have an adverse effect to historic properties. For more information on the Project’s effects to historic properties, please see: Final Supplemental Assessment of Effects. FRA developed a Draft Programmatic Agreement (PA) to resolve the known adverse effects of the Project. The Draft PA is available for public and consulting party review, along with the SDEIS, from May 12 through July 6, 2023.
What is Section 4(f)?
Section 4(f) of the United States Department of Transportation Act of 1966 (49 USC 303) protects public parks and recreational lands; wildlife refuges; and historic sites that are eligible for or listed in the NRHP from acquisition or conversion to transportation use. A United States Department of Transportation agency, including FRA, may approve a transportation project that uses these resources only if there is no feasible and prudent avoidance alternative and the project includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the resources, or the use meets the requirements for a de minimis impact. A Draft 4(f) Evaluation of the Preferred Alternative is available for public review as Chapter 6 of the SDEIS from May 12 through July 6, 2023.
What is the agency's Preferred Alternative?
The “preferred alternative" is the alternative that the lead Federal agency believes would best fulfill the purpose and need for a project while balancing impacts on the natural and human environment. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) require Federal agencies to identify the agency’s Preferred Alternative in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) if one exists.
In the 2020 DEIS, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) identified Alternative A-C as the Preferred Alternative for the Washington Union Station Expansion Project (the Project). After public review of the 2020 DEIS, FRA paused the NEPA process to consider comments. During the pause, a new alternative (Alternative F) was developed in response to many 2020 DEIS comments.
In July 2022, FRA and the Project Proponents identified Alternative F as the Preferred Alternative. The potential impacts of the new Preferred Alternative are evaluated in the Supplemental DEIS (SDEIS) issued on May 12, 2023.
How does the new Preferred Alternative compare to the 2020 DEIS Action Alternatives?
Like the Action Alternatives considered in the 2020 DEIS, the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F) includes the reconstruction of tracks and platforms; construction of new concourses and a train hall; construction of new rail support facilities; and continued use and maintenance of the historic Station building.
Features of the Preferred Alternative that differ from the 2020 Action Alternatives include:
- Below-ground facility to accommodate vehicular pick-up/drop-off as well as a reduced number of parking spaces from existing conditions and 2020 DEIS Action Alternatives (400 to 550 spaces, or approximately 65% fewer than proposed in Alternative A-C and 77% fewer than in the existing parking garage);
- Two vehicular access ramps to and from the below-ground facility constructed on G Street NE and First Street NE, respectively;
- East-west bus facility integrated into the structural deck above the rail terminal with 38-39 bus slips that opens directly into the new train hall; and
- Enhanced opportunity for the creation of a public space centered on the historic Station building. While the private air rights developer would be primarily responsible for the design and construction of the public space, Project elements within the space (e.g., skylights to provide the passenger concourse below with daylight) would be designed in collaboration with the private air rights developer.
Why did FRA and the Proponents develop Alternative A-C and identify it as the preferred alternative?
FRA and the Project Proponents developed Alternative A-C after considering agency and public comments and concerns about the other Action Alternatives in order to better address public and agency concerns, meet the project purpose and need, and minimize impacts. Because Alternative A-C was developed with the intent of improving upon the other alternatives, and in light of the regulatory requirement to identify the preferred alternative in the Draft EIS if one exists, FRA has identified Alternative A-C as the Preferred Alternative.
Alternative A-C combines elements of two other alternatives (Alternatives A and C) in a manner that best responds to these comments and concerns. Specifically, Alternative A-C would:
- Minimize depth and complexity of construction by placing all parking above ground, requiring no significant excavation below the concourse level.
- Provide the fewest parking spaces of the Alternatives..
- Retain intermodal uses close to the main station.
- Minimize operational traffic impacts on the H Street Bridge and surrounding public street network.
- Make optimal use of the Federally owned air rights and minimize impacts on the private air rights.
- Enhance the urban setting by aligning the multimodal surface transportation center with the western edge of the historic station building and enhancing potential commercial development opportunities around the multimodal surface transportation center.
- Reduce overall project costs through a flexible, above-ground solution for bus and parking and a more efficient train hall layout.
Has FRA made the decision to implement the Preferred Alternative?
No. FRA presented the impacts of the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F) in the SDEIS, which is available for public review until July 6, 2023. After the end of the SDEIS public review period, FRA will consider comments received and prepare a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) addressing the substantive comments received on both the 2020 DEIS and the SDEIS. FRA will determine which alternative to implement in the Record of Decision (ROD) for the Project. FRA intends to issue a combined FEIS/ROD in early 2024.
How does the Project support and relate to regional rail planning?
The Project would improve a critical piece of rail infrastructure to accommodate increased intercity and commuter rail service into the future. By reconstructing all tracks and platforms, as well as providing new internal circulation space and amenities, the Project would accommodate the levels of train service envisioned in the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)’s NEC FUTURE plan and support new service, such as Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) - Virginia Railway Express (VRE) through-running trains and the Metropolitan intercity service.
The Project complements the expansion of intercity passenger service south of the District, which includes Long Bridge and DC2RVA Projects on the Southeast Corridor. The Project would allow Amtrak, MARC, and VRE to achieve the higher levels of service outlined in their long-term plans.
How does the Project support multimodal transportation at Washington Union Station?
The Union Station Redevelopment Act of 1981 calls for the Station to be a multimodal transportation center. The Project would enhance multimodal connections at the Station with:
- New concourses that would improve internal passenger circulation among transportation modes, including enhanced connections to the Union Station Metrorail Station;
- More direct Station access to the DC Streetcar;
- Additional bicycle parking and storage;
- Improvements around the Station to enhance pedestrian and bicycle access;
- A purpose-built facility for the District’s principal hub for intercity and tour/charter buses; and
- Below-ground parking and pick-up/drop-off facility
Why is a bus facility proposed and what services would be provided?
Buses provide an important transportation service at the multimodal Union Station. Tour/charter buses have operated in the bus facility since it opened in the 1980s, and intercity buses were brought into the facility as part of a cooperative agreement in 2012. The bus facility provides convenient access for scheduled intercity travel and connections for visitors to the District of Columbia.
All Action Alternatives replace the bus facility to serve both tour/charter and intercity buses with a modern facility designed to accommodate their future growth. The new bus facility would include new and expanded waiting areas for passengers and eliminate conflicts between pedestrians and buses within the facility. It would provide better connections to other modes of travel at the Station.
The Preferred Alternative (Alternative F) features an east-west facility integrated into the deck that would provide direct passenger access to the adjacent east-west train hall. The bus facility would have 38/39 slips (in normal configuration, the facility would have 38 slips, but an additional slip could be provided in the island platform in peak situation). In times of particularly high demand, the H Street deck-level pick-up and drop-off area adjacent to the train hall could be used by buses, providing the equivalent of 15 additional slips.
How is pick-up and drop-off distributed throughout the Project?
Like all major transportation hubs, Union Station is expected to see continued growth in pick-up and drop-off demand, including “for-hire” services like Uber or Lyft. Providing multiple pick-up and drop-off locations can reduce the existing challenges at the front of the Station and better manage spillover of pick-up and drop-off activity onto adjacent streets. Multiple locations would be convenient to different directions from the Station and can also shorten the walking distance for Station passengers in accessing their ride. Pick-up and drop-off locations are proposed on First Street NE, Second Street NE, and at the H Street deck level next to the new train hall.
In response to comments received on the 2020 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), the Preferred Alternative includes a below-ground pick-up and drop-off facility that is expected to accommodate approximately half of the pick-up and drop-off activity generated by Union Station. The below-ground facility would also provide queuing space for for-hire vehicles waiting to pick up passengers in front of the Station. The below-ground facility would be accessed via ramps on G Street NE and First Street NE. A ramp on the east side of the Station would provide access from the facility to the front of the Station.
How much parking is provided in the Project?
Parking provides multimodal access and connectivity for intercity rail and bus passengers, in addition to visitors to the Station, and analysis indicated there is future demand for parking at WUS.
In the 2020 DEIS, the Action Alternatives included parking for approximately 1,600 vehicles (a 38 percent reduction from existing conditions). Comments on the 2020 DEIS showed a strong public concern with the amount of parking included in the Project as well as with the location of the parking facility. FRA considered these comments and refined the Project’s parking program.
The Preferred Alternative (Alternative F) in the Supplemental DEIS (SDEIS) features a one-level below-ground facility that is used both for parking and for pick-ups and drop-offs. Because of this dual purpose, the facility would accommodate 400 to 550 parking spaces. This represents approximately a 77% reduction in parking capacity relative to existing conditions and 65% reduction relative to Alternative A-C (2020 DEIS Preferred Alternative).
How has the Project been coordinated with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT)?
DDOT is a Cooperating Agency for the EIS. Cooperating Agencies are agencies that have jurisdiction by law or special expertise on resources potentially affected by a project. Since the beginning of the Project, FRA has met more than 50 times with DDOT staff on matters such as H Street Bridge Replacement, DC Streetcar teams, multimodal planning, vehicular circulation, location of ramps to the below-ground facility, and bicycle and pedestrian access.
Coordination with DDOT will continue through the issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD). After public review of the SDEIS, FRA will work with DDOT on finalizing measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse impacts on the transportation network around Union Station.
How would the Preferred Alternative manage Station-related traffic?
The Preferred Alternative employs multiple approaches to manage traffic related to the Station. In particular, refinements to H Street circulation have reduced the number of required intersections and improved expected traffic operations there relative to the 2020 DEIS Action Alternatives.
FRA and the Project Proponents found that the greatest generator of vehicular trips to and from Union Station by 2040 will be cars picking up or dropping off passengers at the Station. To minimize the impacts of traffic, the Preferred Alternative includes several designated pick-up and drop-off areas that distribute cars across several locations and help keep pick-up and drop-off traffic away from residential streets. Approximately half of all pick-ups and drop-offs would occur in the below-ground facility. Additional strategies to further reduce Station-related traffic through improved multimodal connections would be developed as Project design progresses.
How does the Washington Union Station Expansion Project (Project) preserve and enhance the historic Station building?
In all Action Alternatives, including the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F), the Project preserves and enhances the historic Station building. The Project maintains the historic Station building as the primary entrance and a grand welcoming space worthy of the nation’s capital. The proposed train hall retains the symmetrical orientation of the Station’s Beaux-Arts design. The Project removes the existing parking garage, which features an overhang that disrupts the profile of the Station and the view along First Street NE.
How does the Project incorporate urban design, placemaking, and neighborhood integration?
The Project’s conceptual design is intended to incorporate world-class architecture, befitting the special location of Union Station. The Project creates a great public train hall to complement the historic Station building and its architecture. The train hall and other major public concourses would include active uses, amenities, and architectural features to enhance the public realm of the nation’s capital. The train hall would transform the experience of passengers arriving at Union Station and provide an attractive gateway to the District of Columbia.
The sides of the rail yard would remain one level above First and Second Streets NE. The Project would create a new H Street Concourse, with entrances below the H Street Bridge punctuating the rail yard wall along First and Second Streets NE. This would enhance and activate the urban setting and provide a friendlier pedestrian connection between the NoMa and Capitol Hill neighborhoods than the existing H Street Bridge. At the H Street Bridge level, the Project would provide new connections to the Station through entrances to the new H Street Concourse below.
The Project is adjacent to a planned private air rights development (Burnham Place) located above the rail yard between K Street and the back of the Station. While Burnham Place is a separate and independent project, during the development of the Preferred Alternative, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), and Amtrak coordinated with the private air rights developer (Akridge) on opportunities to enable a public space on the H Street deck level. This coordination effort is consistent with the Project’s purpose of integrating the Project with adjacent land uses and is responsive to comments from numerous agencies on the 2020 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
Coordination with Akridge focused on developing an approach to the Project elements at the H Street deck level that would enhance opportunities for the creation of a public space commensurate with Union Station’s historic and architectural significance, centered on the historic Station building. Moving parking below ground and integrating the bus facility into the H Street deck makes it possible to establish a strong visual connection between the Station and H Street. It would also allow for an overall site design respectful of the symmetry of Union Station.
The private air rights developer would be primarily responsible for the design and construction of the public space. The developer would be responsible for its construction. Project elements within the space (e.g., skylights to provide the passenger concourse below with daylight) would be designed in collaboration with the private air rights developer.
Who will be responsible for implementing the Washington Union Station Expansion Project (Project)?
Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) is the Project Sponsor responsible for implementing the Project through final design and construction. USRC is also responsible for mitigation measures identified during the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.
USRC is a non-profit organization that acts as the landlord for Union Station and is its public steward. USRC will implement the Project in coordination with Amtrak, which owns the rail infrastructure (tracks, platforms, and supporting facilities) at the Station.
What is the Project’s cost?
The Preferred Alternative would cost approximately $8.8 billion to construct. This is a rough-order-of-magnitude estimate, which is subject to future refinements as planning and design progress. The estimate includes escalation over the duration of construction.
Is the Project funded for construction?
No. The Project is currently in the project planning process. Upon the Federal Railroad Administration’s completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Record of Decision (ROD), USRC would identify and pursue funding sources.
What are the temporary and long-term economic benefits associated with the Project?
Construction of the Project would create thousands of jobs annually in several fields (construction, architecture and engineering, related service industries) for the duration of construction period. These jobs would generate income that can be spent in the local and regional economy, resulting in secondary job and income benefits.
In the long term, the expansion of Union Station and the potential development of the Federally owned air rights above the rail terminal would bring new jobs to the area. Regionally, the increased intercity and commuter rail service that the expanded Station could support would more efficiently connect the District of Columbia to the broader region and job and market opportunities along the east coast.
What is the duration and nature of construction for the Project?
Construction of the Preferred Alternative presented in the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) is anticipated to take approximately 13 years. The Project would be built in four phases of unequal duration, starting from the east side of the rail terminal and moving toward the west side. Activities would include the construction of support of excavation (SOE) walls around the rail terminal; excavation; drilled shaft construction; and construction of the various project elements. The type of activity and resulting impacts would vary across the construction period and across each phase. Impacts, including construction-related traffic, would be greatest during SOE wall construction and excavation. The SDEIS includes an analysis of the construction impacts of the Preferred Alternative and presents proposed measures to avoid, minimize, or mitigate these impacts.
How has the Washington Union Station Expansion Project (Project) been shared with the public and with neighbors?
Before the publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Project in 2020, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) hosted four public meetings (in December 2015, March 2016, October 2016, and March 2018). FRA and the Project Proponents—Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) and Amtrak— also attended many local public events, including local festivals and markets, to provide information to local residents. FRA and USRC met with representatives of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6C and made a presentation at the March 2020 meeting of the Transportation and Public Space Committee.
On July 14, 2020, during the DEIS public review period, FRA hosted an online public hearing to receive comments on the document.
In 2022, FRA presented the Preferred Alternative assessed in the Supplemental DEIS (SDEIS) at the following two public hearings: the Commission of Fine Art’s June 16, 2022, hearing; and the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC)’s July 7, 2022, hearing.
In February 2023, FRA initiated a targeted outreach effort to engage minority and low-income communities in the vicinity of Union Station. This effort focused on neighborhoods and communities along the North Capitol Street corridor, along which the Preferred Alternative would potentially generate additional traffic and congestion. A focused Community Communications Committee (CCC) consisting of 12 community leaders helped the Project team to communicate with the community. Members of the Project team held several pop-up events to share information with, and received feedback from, community members on the Project and its potential impacts. To date, pop-up locations have included the Northwest One Library, Ward 6 Community Cleanup Event, Union Station in Bloom event, NoMA in Bloom event, and 2M Apartments.
How has the Project been coordinated with the Burnham Place development?
The Project and Burnham Place have different purposes and objectives. The Project accommodates but does not require development of air rights for Burnham Place. In the period leading up to the 2020 DEIS, FRA and the Project Proponents met more than 40 times with Akridge, the developer of Burnham Place. Through the EIS process, Akridge comments have been considered in the development and refinement of the Action Alternatives.
FRA and the Project Proponents continued coordinating with Akridge through the development of the Preferred Alternative (Alternative F). Coordination focused on developing an approach to the Project elements at the H Street deck level that would enhance opportunities for the creation of a public space commensurate with Union Station’s historic and architectural significance, centered on the historic Station building. Moving parking below ground and integrating the bus facility into the H Street deck would make it possible to establish a strong visual connection between the Station and H Street. It would also allow for an overall site design respectful of the symmetry of the Station.
The private air rights developer would be primarily responsible for the design and construction of the public space. The developer would be responsible for its construction. Project elements within the space (e.g., skylights to provide the passenger concourse below with daylight) would be designed in collaboration with the private air rights developer.
Coordination with Akridge is consistent with the Project’s purpose of integrating the Project with adjacent land uses and is responsive to comments from numerous agencies on the 2020 DEIS.