Washington Union Station Expansion Project

Photo Credit: Ted Eytan flickr

2021 Georgetown Waterfront

Union Station Expansion: D.C.’s Greatest Economic and Transportation Opportunity

Washington Union Station is the nation’s train station. One mile from the U.S. Capitol building, it serves as a gateway to the Nation’s capital, is the rail backbone that connects northern and southern rail lines along the East Coast, and connects commuters and visitors within our region. Whereas other train stations are owned and operated by state DOTs, transit authorities, or other local government entities, Washington Union Station is the only federally-owned rail station in the entire country. Union Station requires federal support to modernize critical infrastructure that hasn’t been touched since Daniel Burnham’s station was originally constructed in 1907.

Our history. Our legacy.

The Federal City Council has a rich history of supporting projects that require complex cross-sector and cross-jurisdictional collaboration, especially those that involve collaboration between the federal and local government. At the root of this work has always been the recognition that federal assets in the District have a critical impact on local communities, and a commitment to fusing the civic quality of federal facilities with the vitality of the city. Examples of this work in the organization’s history include the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue, advocating for the original buildout of the Metro system, the development of the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center, and the creation of the MCI Center (now the Capital One Arena). The Federal City Council also has a rich history of work on Union Station. As an organization that was instrumental in calling for the redevelopment of the station in the 1980s, and with one of five board seats on the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), the FC2 feels both a sense of organizational ownership and pride for the station, and we are deeply committed to our role in ensuring the project’s success.

Photo Credit: Akridge and Shalom Baranes Associates

2012 Washington Union Station Expansion and Burnham Place Project Vision

DC’s single greatest economic development and transportation opportunity.

Not only will the expansion double the station’s capacity for Amtrak and commuter rail service, it will deliver fiscal benefits, job opportunities, and enhanced mobility through transportation capacity and facility improvements. By enhancing the station’s role as a high-capacity multimodal transit center, the station expansion project will have a significant influence in allowing the region to achieve goals related to growth, efficiency, and competitiveness, as well as critical climate-related goals. Lastly, the station expansion also will have a major influence on the successful development of privately-held air-rights over the Union Station rail yard which will deliver substantial economic, housing, open space, and connectivity benefits to an area of the city that has historically served as a major barrier.

The Project.

This year the Federal Railroad Administration, in collaboration with Amtrak and the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, will unveil the ten year, $10.7B Washington Union Station Expansion Project (SEP) to modernize facilities and create a world class multi-modal transit hub. The SEP will:

  • Reconstruct more than 25 acres of tracks and platforms;
  • Double ridership capacity and address decades of backlog in maintenance;
  • Address critical ADA, life safety and security deficiencies;
  • Create new rail and bus concourses, train hall, pick-up/ drop-off facilities, dedicated bicyclist + pedestrian facilities;
  • Connect the super-region, eliminate critical bottleneck for passenger and freight and unlock the ROI of rail investments across region and NEC;
  • Deliver 67,000 construction jobs over the 10 year life of the project;
  • Increase access to jobs, education, affordable housing;
  • Expand clean, urban public transportation;
  • Reduce vehicle miles traveled, regional congestion, and carbon emissions.

Photo Credit: Akridge and Shalom Baranes Associates

2020 Station Urban Design Concept

The purpose.

  • Though the Washington Union Station Expansion Project has the full support of Congresswoman Norton, the regional delegation, Mayor Bowser, Chairman Mendelson, and key District stakeholders, funding is far from guaranteed.
  • Union Station’s status as a federally owned asset, combined with the fact that the station expansion project is a federally-led project presents both a challenge and opportunity for this project becoming a reality.
  • The American Jobs Plan and the Biden Administration’s stated commitment to rail infrastructure investment presents a once in a generation opportunity to realize the boldest rail vision project in the nation.
  • With the Project nearing the end of the 6 year environmental review process in 2021, and with historic federal infrastructure and transportation investment on the horizon for FY 22, time is now for the next century of Union Station, the Nation’s train station.

How to help.

Join the Federal City Council, and our region’s business leaders to in telling President Biden, Secretary Buttigieg, Chairman DeFazio, and Congresswoman Norton to make Union Station redevelopment a priority for federal infrastructure funding, by signing THIS business community letter.

Learn more about the Union Station Expansion Project.

More information is available about the FC2’s Union Station efforts in our FC2 newsletters and Catalyst magazines. You may also contact Laura Miller Brooks at lmillerbrooks@federalcitycouncil.org.