Union Station project could reduce parking, move it underground

Proposed plans to expand D.C.’s Union Station now involve cutting the number of parking spots in about half, moving those spaces underground and rearranging the bus facility so it aligns with the new train hall.

An updated passenger pickup and drop-off site would also be located underground.

That’s according to an update that members of the National Capital Planning Commission received last week from Matthew Flis, the commission’s senior urban designer.

The project to update the second-busiest station in the Amtrak network will reconfigure station tracks and bring a new train hall, bus facilities, concourses, rail support spaces and “a variety of pedestrian and bicycle access improvements,” Flis said.

It’s all in anticipation of growing passenger demand for bus service and for rail service from Amtrak, MARC and Virginia Railway Express.

Changes to the historic station building, though, have not been proposed.

The Federal Railroad Administration and other parties have been working to refine the expansion plans. Last week’s presentation was something of a refresher, as commission members last reviewed concept plans from the FRA in January 2020.

And Flis pointed out that during an earlier review, members of the commission had asked that the project team look at reducing the number of parking spaces given the project’s “multimodal nature.” Parking would be moved underground, he added, because a large parking facility above the tracks “didn’t really seem to relate well to the surrounding air rights development to be developed.”

Aligning the bus facility from the east to the west with the new train hall would also free up space for future development, Flis said.

“The other interesting thing about this move is it starts to connect the bus facility, the train hall and the platforms beneath in a more direct way,” he said.

The Planning Commission expects to receive an updated concept plan for the project ahead of its meeting in July.

WTOP’s Liz Anderson contributed to this report.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer. In a previous life, he helped edit The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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