Raleigh, N.C. — The state Department of Transportation has reneged on a promise to use $15 million in federal funding on a 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.
Construction of Union Station is projected to cost $60 million, but Raleigh officials will have to downsize the plans or come up with another funding source after DOT officials said they have already spent the money earmarked for the terminal.
Transportation Secretary Tony Tata outlined the problem Thursday, noting that the state received $29 million in uncommitted funds in 2010 as part of $520 million in federal stimulus money for high-speed rail projects. A former DOT official said Raleigh could have $15 million of the uncommitted funds for Union Station, but the Federal Railroad Administration said rail upgrades between Raleigh and Charlotte had already consumed the money.
"NCDOT takes its funding commitments very seriously, including those made by former employees under previous administrations," Tata said in a statement. "Unfortunately in this case, funding was overcommitted by one person against FRA mandate and staff recommendations."
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.
Raleigh received a $21 million federal grant a year ago to help pay for the first phase of improvements, including renovating the building, constructing various track, siding and platform improvements and extending West Street.
The federal government also is providing $6.7 million in "congestion mitigation" funds for the project, and state and local sources were to pick up about $17 million of the $60 million cost.