Washington DC Union Station redevelpment plans

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neroden

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I'm beginning to wonder if Neroden and I are talking about the same Washington Union Station. Big wide platforms? Hardly. Tons of space between them and the gates? Where?
Try paying attention next time you go through the station. I know if you go through a station a lot you start operating on automatic. About 20 feet of wasted depth along the entire upper level.
 
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Ryan

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I'm beginning to wonder if Neroden and I are talking about the same Washington Union Station. Big wide platforms? Hardly. Tons of space between them and the gates? Where?
Try paying attention next time you go through the station. I know if you go through a station a lot you start operating on automatic. About 20 feet of wasted depth along the entire upper level.
I think I know where you're talking about, it's usually crowded with people and redcap/Maitenance carts going back and forth. It's also how you come off the platforms and get over to the entry doors. When rush hour trains unload, it's packed.
 

neroden

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In my opinion, the biggest problem is that the space is broken up by walls and obstructions. Consider what would happen if that space was made continuous with the space on the other side of the gates, rather than obstructed by a wall. I'm not sure how many structural pillars there are, but the space could be a lot more permeable. More permeable spaces allow for more people than spaces cluttered with obstructions.

The mall in Union Station did a similar thing: the original station design has a lot of wide open through-flowing spaces and the mall obstructs this, narrowing the pathways down to smaller bottlenecks. The upper level isn't really a problem here, but the main level mall is.

This is a basic conflict between train station design and mall design; the mall wants to obstruct you at every turn to divert you into the stores. The train station wants free-flowing, open space.
 
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west point

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Ryan is correct. The WASH plan to have 3 exits from each platform to a cross connecting concourse. That "MAY " allow for faster egress from the platforms especially for commuters. One does have to wonder if Amtrak and especially LD trains will empty and board at the platforms faster. It will all depend on baggage checking, ticketing,, finding and descending from two of the concourses to the platforms. passenger support facilities at the new concourses will really affect this. The lower level boarding and alighting of southern trains always seems to jam up the escalators.
 

afigg

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Off topic but Penn south is planning for wider platforms.
IIRC, the plans for Boston South Station expansion with new platforms and tracks also call for wider platforms (and access from a new over the tracks mezzanine). The goal certainly appears to be to install modern wider platforms with improved access at the major city stations of the NEC where it is feasible. Can't realistically rebuild and widen the platforms for the current NYP. 30th Street is ok as it is for both platform width and length. But the opportunity exists to modernize both BOS and WAS over the next 10-15 years, so take advantage of the opportunity.
 

afigg

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Note that widening of the platforms will reduce upper level tracks by 2 and one less platform. It may be that work will have to start at the west end of the station next to the Metro line. If so 4 tracks will have to be taken out of service there to build just track - platform - track. Then maybe another 4 tracks to build track - platform - track -track - platform - track. Of course other order of construction may happen with maybe some at other end of station.
I think the plan is to first rebuild the lower level platforms and tracks (aka the through tracks to the First street tunnel) in combination with digging out and building the underground parking garage on the east side of the station complex. The upper level or stub tracks and platforms on the western side are pinned down by the pillars for the parking garage, so those tracks and platforms can't be significantly shifted until the parking garage has been removed. Which in turn requires the new underground parking garage open first. Akridge needs to remove the parking garage in order to build the Burnham Place complex over the tracks, so Akridge is motivated to move the multi-stage project along.

One comment, the Master Plan concept was published in July, 2012 so it is now 3 years old. The plan is only a 28 page concept document. The design and engineering studies have continued since then, presumably refining and revising the concept laid out in the 2012 document. So I would expect some parts of the layout and configuration shown in the 2012 renderings and diagrams have changed. At some point, a more detailed and updated plan should be published; when, no idea. Presumably when that happens, we will get a better idea of how Amtrak, USRC, and the other players expect to pay for the whole thing.
 

west point

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Platform width is interesting. When passing thru Sacramento on the Starlight was very startled to see how wide that platform was. Someone needs to measure the platform. One reason it may be so wide is that there are overhead hose reels to refill the potable water tanks of each car. But there is plenty of room to run carts back and forth without interfering with passengers.
 

neroden

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Ryan is correct. The WASH plan to have 3 exits from each platform to a cross connecting concourse.
That certainly looks like a good idea.
That "MAY " allow for faster egress from the platforms especially for commuters. One does have to wonder if Amtrak and especially LD trains will empty and board at the platforms faster. It will all depend on baggage checking, ticketing,, finding and descending from two of the concourses to the platforms. passenger support facilities at the new concourses will really affect this.
Oh yeah. At the moment procedures are causing more trouble than layout.
The lower level boarding and alighting of southern trains always seems to jam up the escalators.
 

afigg

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The FRA has posted a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the expansion plans for DC Union Station. So, the Master Plan concept was published 3 years ago. Since then Amtrak, USRC, and I expect Akridge has conducted engineering studies and advanced the conceptual plan. Now the process moves into the EIS process which will likely take a few more years. Then they will have to figure out how to pay for it. A long sloooowwww process.

FRA eLibrary link: Notice of Intent for Washington Union Station Expansion Project. Excerpt:

USRC in coordination with Amtrak propose the Project to expand Washington Union Station, the main project within the 2nd Century Plan. The Project is anticipated to require federal funding and approval. The EIS for the Project will address the reconstruction and expansion of the rail terminal (track and platforms), construction of new concourses, changed and improved access, and associated improvements to modernize the multi-modal services of the station.
 

afigg

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The next public step for the EIS process for the Union Station project is a Public Scoping Meeting on December 7, 2015. Presentations for public scoping meeting tend to be very general and more about the process than what the plans might be, so if anyone goes, don't expect a lot.

FRA website for the EIS effort: Washington Union Station Expansion Project with details on the public meeting.
 
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sitzplatz17

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The next public step for the EIS process for the Union Station project is a Public Scoping Meeting on December 7, 2015. Presentations for public scoping meeting tend to be very general and more about the process than what the plans might be, so if anyone goes, don't expect a lot.

FRA website for the EIS effort: Washington Union Station Expansion Project with details on the public meeting.
I live pretty close to Union Station now so I'll probably be at that meeting. If anyone else here goes PM me and I'll be sure to say hi.

Otherwise I'll just try and report back what I hear if I go.
 

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Ryan

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I like how it's strategically taken to not show the mass of scaffolding directly over and behind the photographer.

This is conveniently timed for a quick stop in on the way home from work, I'll report back on what's going on.
 

afigg

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Ahead of the public information presentation on the status of the Union Station Expansion Project studies, Amtrak has posted a news release on the next actual construction step, the Concourse Modernization project, with a rendering of what the expanded concourse should (may?) look like.

Concourse renovation will increase passenger capacity, modernize station. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON – Amtrak is advancing a near-term comprehensive renovation of Washington Union Station’s intercity and commuter rail concourse, which will add approximately 20,000 square feet of new passenger space – nearly doubling the concourse’s current capacity.

Design is underway to upgrade passenger amenities including new restrooms, boarding gates, seating and a ClubAcela lounge. The design will also include new architectural features and natural light elements to enliven the space for travelers. The result will be a vastly reconfigured, modernized and unified concourse that will improve the passenger experience by providing better accessibility, circulation, wayfinding and multimodal connectivity. Amtrak today unveiled two conceptual renderings of the renovation.

....

In addition to the modernization of the concourse, planned improvements by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for a new Metrorail staircase and new First Street entrance will bring a consolidated set of passenger improvements to the western portion of the concourse.

....

Early action construction for Amtrak’s Concourse Modernization project will start spring 2016, including the relocation of heating and ventilation units. Phased construction is anticipated to start in 2017 and will seek to minimize impacts to all station users.
If Chicago is getting a bigger and upgraded lounge, the WAS Club Acela lounge is presumably going to get a major do-over as well.

Rendering of the expanded concourse. Of course, in reality, there will be long lines waiting to get pass the gate keepers.

WAS_ConMod_CamViewCR-1-e1459274597923.jpg
 

afigg

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The Washington Post has an article on the concourse expansion project which provides info on the cost ($50 million) and has a second rendering image showing the new Club Acela lounge located in a new level over the main concourse above the gates. If the elevators to the lower level platforms are rebuilt, could they have them provide direct access from the new lounge to the lower level platforms?

Washington Post: Amtrak unveils $50 million solution to cramped conditions at Union Station. Excerpts:

In a design Amtrak released Tuesday, the station’s north wall on the concourse level will be pushed back to add another 20,000 square feet of space and bring new restrooms, boarding gates, seating, an Amtrak police station and ClubAcela lounge. Passengers would be able to look out on the train tracks through a glass wall.

....

Construction on the full plan will begin in the spring of next year with completion in 2019 or 2020, meaning before passengers get to enjoy the new concourse they will have to endure two-to-three years worth of hard hats and dust. Zaidain estimated the price tag at $40 million to $50 million, most of the money coming from Amtrak’s budget.

A main reason for the cramped conditions in the first place is the concourse’s position beneath a parking garage and taxi access road, giving the station’s architects and engineers, from KGP Design Studio, Grimshaw Architect and ARUP, limited space in which to work.

“This space is extremely constrictive on all levels for what we’re trying to do,” Zaidain said.
Easy to forget to overlook the access road to the parking garage and the garage when looking from inside the current concourse area at how it might get expanded.

What I don't see in the news release or the Post article is any mention of improvements to the lower level tracks such as putting in several high level and wider platforms for level boarding and ADA compliance. Is that a follow-on project to the concourse expansion or a less publicized part of it?
 

sitzplatz17

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I like how it's strategically taken to not show the mass of scaffolding directly over and behind the photographer.

This is conveniently timed for a quick stop in on the way home from work, I'll report back on what's going on.
Hey Ryan, I'm going to try and be there as well around 6:00. If you see me around say hi!
 

afigg

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The viewgraph and display board presentations for the March 30 meeting are available on the FRA Washington Union Station Expansion Project EIS webpage. Mostly general planning framework and transportation mode high level material. With pictures of various modern train and bus/multimodal stations from around the world to show what other cities have done.

But there are 2 track and platform layout options presented in the board display set. Both options have different configurations of 30' wide high level platforms ranging from 900' to 1350' long with one 30' wide low level platform and one narrower 20' wide half wide low level platform for the lower level through tracks (for VRE and Amtrak Superliner trains).
 

Ryan

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OK, I'm a big time slacker and haven't written anything up on attending the meeting. Really, the viewgraphs and posters cover everything that was talked about.

In the audio, they were big on stressing that there were three different projects going on:

1) The shorter term Concourse Modernization program. Desperately needed. Construction starting soonish.

2) The Burnap Place development being done by Akridge using the air rights over the tracks to the north of the station. That's their bag, and a private property.

3) The longer term Union Station project that's going to tie everything together and making it amazing. This was a scoping and ideas session for that. Options to be presented later this year, and then onward with the schedule as shown in the slides.

On a nearer term note, the netting is down, and the scaffolding is being peeled out of the entry hall. First sunrise I've seen in there since the earthquake. I'll go for some better pictures at not-sunrise and hopefully the whole room will be opened up soon.

IMG_2434.JPG

IMG_2436.JPG
 
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afigg

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There will be an Open House at DC Union Station this Thursday, July 28 from 4 to 7 PM in the Starlight room. The open house will present information on the plans for the Concourse modernization project. The announcement of the Open House is on the NEC projects WAS webpage. Anyone passing through WAS this Thursday afternoon may want to stop in see what the plans are for the concourse expansion and new Acela lounge.

I would expect the display boards or viewgraph presentations from the open house will be posted on the net sometime afterwards.
 
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