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Union Station Amtrak concourse to get more passenger space and other renovations by 2022

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The project is designed to make the concourse less crowded and brighter

The Amtrak concourse at Union Station during pre-Thanksgiving travel in 2018
Getty Images

A significant revitalization project on the Amtrak concourse at Union Station is set to begin this fall, more than three years after it was initially announced. The national rail service said in a release on Friday that it is seeking contractors who could revitalize the space, known as the Claytor Concourse and named after William Graham Claytor Jr., an ex-Amtrak president.

The project is to double passenger capacity in the 70,000-square-foot concourse and fix up the 5,000-square-foot North Hanger, among other improvements, by 2022. Amtrak says the work “will alleviate congestion and enhance customer comfort and accessibility,” including by facilitating more natural light in the concourse. Other project components are upgrades to Amtrak’s support spaces on First Street NE, slab work on both the east and west sides of the station, partly to create more restrooms, and new infrastructure like an emergency generator.

Amtrak estimates that the full project—from pre-construction to completion—will take about 36 months. The work “must be phased in order to avoid an unacceptable level of degradation to passenger capacity and retail disruption, while maintaining passenger access to train gates, Metrorail, and bus deck during construction,” according to the rail service. The project was previously forecast to cost around $50 million and the concourse was originally built in the 1980s. Federal transportation agencies and other groups are collaborating with Amtrak.

A rendering of the planned renovations

Every day, about 100,000 passengers use Union Station, say Amtrak, Metro, and the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. (USRC). Responses to the groups’ solicitation for contractors are due on March 14. The Federal Railroad Administration leases the Amtrak concourse, the historic station, and an adjacent parking garage to USRC, which manages them. They serve more than 37 million visitors a year, according to the solicitation, making Union Station the second busiest Amtrak train station as well as one of the top ten tourist sites in the country.

“Proposers must have a proven record of delivering cost effective projects on schedule and within budget,” the solicitation says. The project is to feature a new 10,000-square-foot “Metropolitan Lounge” to replace the current Club Acela. It will also see a new entrance, stairs, and fare gates at Metro’s First Street NE mezzanine, Metro’s busiest weekday station.

A blueprint of the project area