Construction on schedule for Raleigh transportation hub

Photo by Kelly Kennedy/CBS North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Raleigh is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. and in order to keep up with the pace, the city and the state are working together to build a new transportation hub.

CBS North Carolina on Saturday took a tour of the Union Station construction site. City officials say construction is about 50 percent complete.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement to see this area undergo some incredible change,” said Joe Michael, senior designer with the Urban Design Center and City Planning in Raleigh.

Located in the Warehouse District on the west side of downtown Raleigh, Union Station is expected to be one of the biggest catalysts for urban growth the city has ever seen.

The transit hub will provide service for Amtrak and regional buses.

“I think it’s a huge game changer,” said Michael. “I think it puts a really important piece of transportation right in the middle of downtown Raleigh and kind of expands that capacity. It’s right at the end of Martin Street, so it connects in a great way to Nash Square, Fayetteville Street, Moore Square and will provide that influx of travelers and commuters to the heart of the city.”

For more than a decade, an warehouse sat empty, but now a year later the city is making progress and they have big plans for the Great Hall at Union Station.

“We’re also hoping to have restaurant space as well as office space and some retail as well in this facility,” said Kelly Ham, project engineer with the city of Raleigh. “The city is actually preparing a request for proposal for a master leasing agent to try and identify those tenants, so we are very excited about that.”

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is also involved in the project.  N.C. DOT Facilities Engineer Craig Newton said his department has been advocating for improved passenger service in Raleigh for years.

“Charlotte and Raleigh have the highest ridership of all of our Amtrak stations in North Carolina and our role is to facilitate the plan for those two stations, which we consider bookends to our state-supported service,” Newton said.

Construction is on schedule and Union Station is on track to open up in January 2018.

“We think that more riders will choose to use (an) inner city train service if they have a much nicer passenger facility,” said Newton.

Engineers with the city say the station will also have an open space for people to host special events, like weddings.

The city is paying about $15 million for the project the rest is being paid for by state and federal grants. The total cost is expected to be nearly $90 million.

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