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The Source for Public Transportation News and Analysis December 14, 2012
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St. Paulís Union Depot Is Now Multimodal Facility

Metro Transit in Minneapolis-St. Paul and the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority (MVTA) in Burnsville have a new bus transfer site in St. Paul, MN: historic Union Depot, which opened to the public Dec. 8 for the first time in 40 years. Following a $243 million restoration, the station—owned by the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority (RCRRA)—is now a state-of-the-art multimodal regional transportation hub with provisions for future additional modes.

Regular bus service began Dec. 10, with Metro Transit and MVTA providing about 325 local and express bus trips each day.

“Explore. Experience. Embark. The Journey Begins Again” was the theme of the day-long community celebration Dec. 8. The depot, including its 27,000-square-foot waiting room, was the site of historical performances and reenactments by Bedlam Theatre; live performances by artists, musicians, and dancers; food from area restaurants; and an information fair showcasing transportation features of the newly reopened station.

Completed in 1923, Union Depot provided passenger and freight railroad services for both the Twin Cities and the state of Minnesota. Located in downtown St. Paul near the Mississippi River, the depot is a complex of facilities and elements that served some 282 trains and 20,000 passengers daily in the 1920s. It stopped providing passenger rail service in 1971 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

Future modes of public transit expected to serve the depot include Amtrak passenger rail to Chicago and the Pacific Northwest; Jefferson Lines intercity bus service and casino shuttles; and Metro Transit’s Central Corridor Light Rail Line. The facility also will host a state-of-the-art bicycle center. Upon completion, the depot will be ready to accommodate future commuter rail lines, as well as proposed high-speed rail to Chicago.

“Today we celebrate an important milestone for Union Depot,” said RCRRA Chair and Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough at the Dec. 8 event. “Construction is completed, the public again has access to this grand neoclassical structure, and Union Depot will return to its original purpose of being a regional destination and transportation hub.”

Restoration of the depot, located on a 33-acre site along the Mississippi River, included returning its original 1920s color scheme through complete repainting and plaster restoration of the waiting room and head house; reconstruction of the carriageway; and returning the Fourth Street entrance to its original design. In addition, new construction involved rebuilding the train deck and tracks and building a new multilevel passenger drop-off entrance with ticketing and baggage counters.


Photo by Steve Glischinski

Crowds gather Dec. 8 in the vast waiting room of St. Paul’s Union Depot to celebrate the reopening of the historic facility.


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