Portland’s Union Station is the oldest major passenger terminal on the West Coast. Construction began in 1890; it opened for service in 1896 and has been in continuous operations since that time. There was a significant renovation and modification to the original waiting and passenger service areas completed during 1927-30. During the World War II era, a small nursery addition was constructed on the track side of the station for mothers and their children. Since 1945, there are multiple known changes to Union Station, but the station looks much like it did in the 1930s. However, the track yard, including platforms and canopies, has been serially modified over the station’s history in response to changes in passenger rail needs. In 1975, Union Station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Prosper Portland (previously known as the Portland Development Commission) acquired Union Station in 1987. The station has four existing tracks and two passenger platforms, owned by Prosper Portland and in regular use by Amtrak passenger trains. One mainline track is owned by Portland Terminal Railroad Company (PTRR) used mostly for freight trains.
Union Station is on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)-designated, 466-mile Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor that extends from Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, British Columbia. Union Station is currently serviced by 10 daily passenger trains for Amtrak’s Cascades, Coast Starlight, and Empire Builder routes.
Over the last ten years, several critical repair and maintenance projects have been completed at Union Station including: in-kind replacement of the metal roof tiles, gutters and downspouts; partial seismic stabilization; and the repair and/or in-kind replacement of windows and doors. Additional repairs are needed to stabilize and rehabilitate Union Station.
In late 2010, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) was awarded a grant under the FRA High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program to complete Preliminary Engineering and analysis of potential impacts to the human and natural environment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to support future final design and construction of track and building upgrades at Union Station. The NEPA process includes analysis of impacts under other federal requirements, such as Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Prosper Portland is the subrecipient, through ODOT, of these federal funds.
Through a competitive RFP process Prosper Portland selected three consultant teams with a wide variety of expertise to complete a thorough conditions assessment, guide the creation of the alternatives considered, develop the proposed project and complete the environmental review. Recognizing the importance of maintaining the historic integrity of Union Station, the Prosper Portland team entered into a robust review process with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), which started during the conditions assessment and through conceptual design and development of the proposed project.