After 120 years of continuous operation, Union Station requires critical repairs and upgrades to protect the structure, accommodate the needs of growing future passenger rail service, and improve the experience of passengers, visitors, and tenants. This project sets in motion a process to plan, design, review, and construct improvements that will maintain Union Station’s role for as a transportation gateway and iconic city landmark for the next 120 years.
As part of the environmental review, Prosper Portland, ODOT and FRA are evaluating the proposed Project to assess potential adverse effects on historic resources. A Section 106 review of the proposed Project has occurred and FRA and the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) have determined that the Project would have adverse effects on four historic elements of Union Station: the Front Yard, the High Shed, the platform canopies, and the Nursery. Prosper, ODOT and FRA have consulted with interested parties to identify a process and measures that could be used to resolve the adverse effects on the historic properties. The agreed upon process and resolution measures have been recorded in a draft Programmatic Agreement. This document is anticipated to be executed in Spring of 2020 with the remainder of the grant work to be completed by June of 2020.
We currently only have funds to complete the 30% Preliminary Engineering and environmental review. We anticipate this grant work will be complete in early summer 2020. Prosper Portland will continue to look for funding sources for the final design and construction phases.
The main concourse is a significant historic feature. We are proposing to remove and save the existing finishes, complete the required seismic upgrades, and then reinstall the beautiful marble panels over the seismic reinforcing. Our goal is for the main concourse to look largely like it does today when the seismic upgrades are complete.
The proposed plan converts the existing ticket counter into a retail or concessions area like a coffee shop. There will also be additional retail or food opportunities in the south concourse, south end of the station, and the Annex. Final decisions on retail amenities and other leasable spaces in Union Station will be determined closer to project construction based on market conditions and future design decisions. Additionally, anticipated development in the surrounding Broadway Corridor, including the United States Post Office Site, may create opportunities for retail and food amenities that serve both rail passengers and residents/employees of the surrounding neighborhood.
Due to the extensive nature of the proposed upgrades that include seismic, structural, fire/life/safety, ADA and mechanical upgrades throughout the station, the office tenants on the second and third floors will have to relocate during construction.
Amtrak passenger service will remain operational during construction. However, there will be times when ticketing, baggage, and passenger waiting areas are temporarily relocated to other areas within building or possibly temporary on site trailers. The project team will work closely with Amtrak to minimize inconveniences for passengers. Alterations to train service to accommodate station and track reconstruction will be determined in consultation with Amtrak, ODOT, and WSDOT during final design.
The existing canopies do not meet current seismic and structural codes and they do not meet current Amtrak design guidelines for train clearances. In addition, the platforms do not meet current ADA level boarding requirements. The existing canopies will be removed and replaced with taller and wider canopies that sit on ADA compliant level boarding platforms. We are currently exploring options to repurpose the existing canopies.
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The Long Range Plan is forecasting the number of passenger trains will double within the next 20 years. In order to accommodate these extra passenger trains and to continue to allow freight trains to move past Union Station, an additional track, Track 6, is needed.
The Preliminary Engineering and environmental evaluation is receiving grant funds from the Federal Railroad Administration with a 20% match from Prosper Portland. The Final Design, Permitting, and Construction are currently unfunded.
With the requirement to raise the existing platforms to a level boarding height, required train inspections and maintenance can no longer be done at the raised platforms. These inspections typically happen on empty trains that stay at the station, including overnight layovers. In the future there could be up to five trains that overnight at Union Station. To complete the required inspections, these trains will need to be moved from their boarding position on either Tracks 2, 3, 4, or 5 to Track 1 where there is no plan to have a raised platform, across NW 9th Avenue on new track work, and then moved back to their boarding location. These movements will typically happen between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. After the inspection the trains are then moved back to their boarding location. The new track work allows for these train movements to happen without impacting freight trains that pass through Union Station at night.
The proposed track changes will be designed to comply with the existing Quiet Zone.
The Annex currently houses mechanical equipment that serves the Station. This equipment will be updated and relocated to the north end of the station in an underused garage and storage area. The Annex will be upgraded to meet current building and seismic codes and get new mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades that will support a future retail use like a restaurant or brewery.
An increase in passenger, retail and office activity in and around the station will help improve safety and security. The proposed project includes converting the existing landscaped area in front of the Annex to a public plaza that could support outdoor seating, public art or a seasonal farmer’s market. Lighting levels will be improved on the new platforms and around the building. Inside the station, the existing restrooms will be relocated and modernized, access to the upstairs offices will be more secure, and currently under-used areas will have future retail, concession or seating areas.
Currently sections of the existing building do not meet our accessibility standards. The proposed project will add new elevators and stairs so that all areas of the building are accessible. In addition, bathrooms will be reconfigured and updated to meet current ADA codes. The station, annex and track area will all have accessible routes and features that will comply with current codes and FRA train level boarding requirements.
Union Station is part of the 24-acre Broadway Corridor area, which also includes the 14-acre United States Postal Service site (recently acquired by the City) and several other Prosper Portland-owned properties. In 2015, we developed a Framework Plan for the Broadway Corridor that recognizes the opportunity to revitalize Union Station as a gateway to the city and the neighborhood. We are coordinating ongoing planning efforts for Union Station and Broadway Corridor as appropriate. However, portions of the Broadway Corridor outside of Union Station are not part of the federally-funded Union Station PE/NEPA project. For more information about the Broadway Corridor Development Opportunity, please visit the project page.