New traffic patterns at Union Station unveiled

The new and improved Columbus Plaza in front of Union Station increases pedestrian safety and is expect to smooth the flow of traffic. (WTOP/John Aaron)

WASHINGTON – An 18-month construction project to improve access to Union Station wrapped up Thursday.

D.C. and federal transportation officials gathered on Columbus Plaza in front of the historic train and Metro station to celebrate the completion of the $10.8 million project.

Improvements include:

  • A redesigned traffic circle
  • New, larger sidewalks to improve pedestrian safety
  • Improved traffic signal system that will allow for more efficient flow of pedestrians and vehicles
  • Less obtrusive security bollards around the edge of the station

Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff joined Mayor Vincent Gray and Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton for a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“It wasn’t just the tourists that were confused, it was us native Washingtonians that were confused. It didn’t work for cars and it didn’t work for people,” Rogoff says of the old design. “You didn’t know where you were going to cross the street at the other end of the plaza.”

The old design also caused traffic jams that would back up around the circle.

Federal funding started flowing for the project in 2001. But more changes are on the horizon for the historic facility.

Over the next 20 years, Amtrak plans to expand capacity for high-speed and commuter rail. Amtrak is also working with Metrorail to expand the station capacity and to improve the First Street entrance, according to the Federal Transit Administration.

WTOP’s John Aaron contributed to this report. Follow @JohnAaronWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.


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