Raleigh, N.C. — State and local transportation officials said Friday that they have scraped together enough money to fully fund construction of a $60 million regional transit hub planned for Raleigh.
Planners want to transform the old Dillon Viaduct Building warehouse on West Martin Street into a 34,000-square-foot Union Station, which would replace the cramped 62-year-old Amtrak station on Cabarrus Street – the second busiest rail terminal in the Southeast.
Raleigh received a $21 million grant from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program in June to help pay for the first phase of improvements, including renovating the building, constructing various track, siding and platform improvements and extending West Street.
On Friday, state Department of Transportation officials said they would chip in $15.1 million that had never been allocated from the $545 million in federal stimulus money the state received in 2010 for high-speed rail projects. Also, the federal government is providing $6.7 million in "congestion mitigation" funds for the project.
State and local sources are picking up the remainder of the cost. Raleigh voters, for example, approved spending $3 million on the project when they passed a transportation bond last fall.
“This is a national model," North Carolina Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said. "We think people are going to look to Raleigh and say, 'They got it right.' We’re proud of that. We’re proud of the partnership that made it happen.”
Union Station, which is expected to open in 2017, would handle Amtrak, freight trains, high-speed regional service and commuter rail, as well as Triangle Transit and Capital Area Transit buses. The station also will be a major stop on the Southeast high-speed rail corridor from Washington, D.C., to Atlanta.
"I may levitate I'm so excited about being here," Conti said with a laugh as he stood inside the old warehouse.
With an all glass front, shops and retail vendors, officials say it will be more of a destination than a train station.
"It's a landmark that will position Raleigh as the gateway to the South. It's a magnet for economic development," Federal Railroad Administration chief Joe Szabo said. “What this does is ensure that one of America’s fastest-growing regions will have safe, efficient transportation that will sustain your economic growth for years to come."