After decades of talks and plans, Springfield’s Union Station redevelopment project hit a milestone today [Tuesday] with a demolition ceremony to begin restoration of the historic facility into a modern inter-modal transit hub. The ceremony, attended by federal, state and local officials, including Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, marked the start of 2-phases to bring Union Station back to life. First opened in the mid 1920′s, it served as Springfield’s train station until it was closed in the early 1970′s. $78 million in federal and state funds have been committed to its rebirth. Patrick, who announced an additional $4 million to jumpstart reconstruction, says the money is part of his administration’s agenda to invest in the state’s infrastructure to spur economic development.
“I always describe (it) as the unglamorous work of governing, but it supports everything else. Roads, rails, bridges, broadband expansion, public and affordable housing, rebuilding our public colleges and university campuses again. And, yes, investing in this railroad station in this city right now.”
Springfield Congressman Richard Neal, who has been working toward renovating the station for more than three decades, says restoring the iconic landmark will recapture the vibrancy that once existed in the northern blocks of Springfield’s downtown.
“And when you consider that literally thousands of people from western Massachusetts embarked here, whether it was for World War 2, Korea or Vietnam, and then those who simply sought destination to Boston or New York or to another part of the east coast, it began at Union Station. And I think highlighting those memories is very important as we go forward with a modern transportation center.”
The first phase includes renovation of the terminal and its grand passenger concourse, demolishing the baggage building and constructing a bus terminal and parking garage. Projected to be completed by 2015, Union Station will integrate inter-city and commuter rail and bus service in one location. A second phase would build out 50,000 square feet of commercial space and expanded parking to support it.