Congress is mulling big changes for Union Station including a new intercity bus terminal, improved rail passenger access and reduced congestion via two new concourses, proposed reinforcement of the H St bridge, altered and additional metro entrances and the renovation and expansion of the north station entrance. During a July Congressional hearing, lawmakers urged project officials to create a master plan so the Members could seek funding from their Congressional colleagues. The project could move forward with as soon as this fall.
The plans seek to streamline Union Station's role as a transportation hub with an intercity bus terminal. The current Greyhound Bus station is separate from Union Station, requiring passengers to walk outdoors for several minutes through a less-than-ideal area in terms of safety and accessibility; Greyhound has recently pursued moving into the train station. The bus terminal may be home to other bus lines including Bolt Bus and DC2NY among others. In addition to the connected bus terminal, two new metro entrances may be incorporated in the redesign.
Initially, the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) would not allow buses to use the station as a hub. But after several letters from House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) and Subcommittee Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), the USRC and Greyhound began cooperating and testified before the Committee in 2008. This most recent hearing was meant to update Congress and expedite the process.
Chip Akridge, Chairman of Akridge Development, which purchased the air rights of Union Station's train lines in 2006, called the plan a "vast improvement for intercity bus passengers" because it offers a safer and more direct transfer. The developer plans to build the gargantuan 3 million-s.f. Burnham Place, named after Union Station's architect, which will extend north of Union station, past the Hopscotch Bridge on H Street, and house a 400-room hotel, residential towers and first-class office and retail space. Akridge requested $40 million for a new bus terminal and two new metro entrances. The metro access points would be at 1st St NE below the H St overpass, with a connecting walkway to the existing metro ticketing area, and at H St. NE, directly adjacent to the planned terminal. In a statement, David S. Ball, President of the USRC, said the group will be able to move forward with plans pending a study of the physical limitations of the existing parking deck, which has been suggested as a location for the bus terminal. The 42,000 s.f. of space, a portion of the total 140,000 s.f. current parking deck, is being evaluated for the cost of delivery of utilities as well as its structural carrying capacity. The study will help determine the cost of building the terminal, allowing the involved parties to make end user, design, construction, financing and scheduling decisions as early as this fall.
According to Ball, the engineering firm has promised delivery of their evaluation of the parking deck this week. Ball also indicated that the current plans and numbers are very fluid; the actual amount of space devoted to the bus terminal may change pending the report.