From Troy Urman and Rachel Nania.
Attention all Borderstan travelers: Your future is looking bigger, brighter and faster.
On Tuesday morning, The Washington Post reported Amtrak’s proposed plans to overhaul Union Station, turning the country’s second-busiest rail hub into a center for high-speed rail and mixed-use development.
Amtrak’s $7 billion vision includes the addition of multiple below ground tracks, platforms and shopping, including six tracks dedicated to high-speed rails.
“The high-speed lines could mean travel times as short as 94 minutes to New York City’s Penn Station by 2030 — that’s 66 minutes faster than today’s Acela trains,” reports “The Washington Post.”
The plan also includes more than 3,000,000 square feet of newly developed retail, residential and hotel space over the tracks, bridging Capitol Hill to the recently re-developed and re-branded ‘NoMa’ neighborhood.
The original train station was designed by world-famous architect Daniel Burnham in 1907. It has since been expanded and refurbished, incorporating a shopping mall, food court and until recently, a below ground movie theater.
Today, Union Station sees more than 100,000 passenger trips per day, second only to Grand Central Station in New York City. The station also plays host to more than 30 million visitors annually, including shoppers, tourists and Washingtonians alike.
Although the plan has many supporters, including District Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), financing and funding issues remain critical concerns for the realization of this monumental undertaking that may change the gateway to our city.
So don’t pack your bags quite yet, but plan on (and hope for) many pleasant traveling experiences – coming to a platform near you.
Amtrak Expands WiFi
MetroWeekly reports that Amtrak is expanding free WiFi service on 12 east coast routes “just one week after confirming that it was conducting a soft launch of free WiFi service on its Northeast Regional trains?” As a result, 60% of all Amtrak passengers will have access to free WiFi.
Are H Street’s Hipster Days Numbered? Ben’s Buys Property
One just might have to venture that the H Street NE corridor’s days as DC’s next great Bohemian hangout and land of the skinny black jeans has come to an official close: Ben’s Chili Bowl has purchased property at 10th and H Streets NE. According to the Washington City Paper report, the new restaurant will not necessarily be another Chili Bowl, but something different. Crepes? Small plates? We’ll have to see.
Alexander Zeppos New Chef at Logan Tavern
P Street’s Logan Tavern has hired Alexander Zeppos as its new chef. He comes to the restaurant from Growlers in Gaithersburg, and before that he was the Executive Chef at Local 16 from 2004 to 2006. In addition, he’s held a variety of local culinary positions including Executive Sous Chef at Zaytinya, Jaleo and Ardeo. Zeppos brings a cooking style that includes American, Spanish and Greek food.
Outside Income for DC Councilmembers: Still in the News
The issue of DC Councilmembers being able to hold outside jobs looks like an issue that isn’t going away, especially with the April primary only five months away. Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2), who represents the bulk of the Dupont-Logan area, has been under the most fire recently. The issue is his other job as an attorney at Patton Boggs and the law firm’s dealing with the city on behalf of clients.
Outside jobs are not unusual. As DCist pointed out in an earlier article, a couple of other members of the Council also had substantial earnings last year from outside jobs: “Cheh [D-Ward 3] took in $280,000 in additional income, while Evans made $190,000 and Catania [I-At Large] $120,000.” Evans is up for re-election in 2012 and it appears that fellow Georgetown resident Fiona Greig will run against Evans in the Democratic Primary. Cheh was re-elected last year, as was Catania.
For the record, members of the Council make $125,583 and the chairman makes $190,000.
I lived in Washington from 1981 to 1983 and my memories of Union Station are mostly non-existent — except that it was a nasty pit of a once-beautiful public building. At the time I lived on Capitol Hill and I would take the Red Line Metro from there. When I returned in late 1992, things were improving.
This weekend, you can head over to Union Station and join the festivities marking its 100th birthday. From DDOT:
Amtrak, joined by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), Union Station Redevelopment Corporation and Ashkenazy Acquisitions, is hosting the Washington Union Station Centennial Celebration on October 4, from 10 am to 4 pm and October 5, from noon to 4 pm. The event will honor this landmark train station’s role in shaping the District over the last century while celebrating the 20-year anniversary of its historic redevelopment in 1988. The Centennial Celebration includes an open house featuring an expansive display of historic locomotives, private rail cars and current Amtrak equipment, as well as memorabilia exhibits and drawings for free Amtrak trips.
Washington Union Station Centennial Celebration Details
- Where: Washington Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
- When: Saturday, October 4, 10 am to 4 p.m. and Sunday, October 5, noon to 4 p.m
- What: Historic train equipment, including vintage locomotives, coaches and private cars; temporary Amtrak cars-including sleepers and food service cars-and commuter rail equipment; railroad-related merchandise and souvenirs; operating model train layout; and raffle prizes.