Tomorrow, Metro will hold an open house detailing changes in its plans to build run-through tracks and an expanded passenger concourse at Union Station.

According to Metro's blog The Source, the most significant change proposed for Link Union Station is the elimination of an above-grade passenger concourse which would have hovered above the station's rail yard.  Instead, staff recommends expanding the existing 30-foot-wide passageway beneath the rail yard to 140 feet in width, creating more space for passenger circulation and amenities such as retail.

This change follows a wave of comments on the Link US project's draft environmental impact report, in which 75 percent of comments regarding the concourse opposed the above-grade alternative, arguing that it would increase transfer times and adversely impact passenger circulation.  The information was first obtained by Metro observer numble via a presentation given on May 9 to the Accessibility Advisory Committee.

Staff has also recommended the removal of of a southbound-to-northbound loop track from the project in order to reduce the amount of property Metro would need to acquire.

Though most of the recent debate surrounding Link US has centered on the location of its expanded passenger concourse, the project's main objective is to increase rail service capacity at the station through the construction of run-through tracks over the US 101 Freeway.  In addition to providing through-routing for Amtrak and Metrolink trains, this would allow for Union Station to accommodate future high-speed rail service.  The project is intended to allow the station to accommodate up to 200,000 daily passengers by the year 2040 - double from the approximately 100,000 passengers that pass through Union Station today.

According to The Sourece, Metro has identified $950 million in funding for the project thus far, a figure which would cover the construction costs of two run-through tracks and upgrades to Union Station's existing throat tracks.  Additional funding is needed for the construction of the expanded passageway and the remaining eight run-through tracks.

Pending certification of the project's final environmental impact report by the Metro Board, a final design for Link US is expected to be completed by Summer 2020.  Some smaller elements of the project - including rail communications and signal work - could begin construction as soon as early 2020.

For more information, Metro's open house will occur on June 6 from 3 pm to 7pm at Union Station East.