It seems a common reaction emerging to yesterday’s unveiling of Amtrak’s Washington Union Station Master Plan has been: “That’s a fine concept, but it’s too much to spend on one station given the equipment and infrastructure needs of the network as whole.”
It’s certainly an understandable response. If you live in a town with an open-air station, service that amounts to a single train a day—or worse, only three trains per week—and that train features rolling stock that’s seen better days? You’re well within your rights to wonder why the national passenger rail system isn’t getting more investment. Rest assured that NARP is working very hard to convince our elected leaders of the need for greater investment in all corners of the national passenger train network.
But in a lot of ways, that critique misses what Union
Station means to
NARP spends a lot of time talking about how trains and train stations are important factors in creating communities. Union Station is proof of this claim. In addressing the transportation challenges the regions steady population and economic growth, Union Station will have to be part of the solution. Whether or not we spend that $6.5 to 7.5 billion over the next two decades (and as I wrote yesterday, the final product may look much different than what is pictured in Amtrak’s Master Plan) it’s certainly not a number outside the realm of discussion when considering a 20 year renovation for a major transportation hub in the seventh most populous metropolitan area in the U.S., still the richest country on earth.
The important corollary to that fact is that Amtrak
shouldn’t have to shoulder the full burden of financing the station—nor do I
expect it to. The state of
Operations along the entire Northeast Corridor are possible,
in large part, thanks to work done at the turn of the century. It was our
grandparents and great-grandparents who built and paid for Washington Union
NARP is hosting the complete gallery of conceptualizations, which should ease some fears about how the renovation would affect the integrity of Daniel Burnham’s original vision.