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    Posted May 10, 2014 by
    VickyW1
    Location
    Denver, Colorado

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    New Union Station Transit Center Redefines Convenient Travel In Denver

     
    In the heart of Denver, Colo., the Regional Transportation District (RTD) is reinventing Union Station and redefining convenient travel. The Union Station Grand Opening Celebration and Street Party was held on Friday, May 9, from 11a.m.–6p.m, on 17th Street between light rail and the historic building. The free event, open to the public, offered tours of the new facility, food trucks, a beer garden featuring some of Colorado's best brews and free samples from area businesses and vendors. A ribbon cutting ceremony took place from noon–1p.m. in front of Wewatta Pavilion featuring a marching band and color guard.

    The new $480 million Union Station Transit Center, opening to commuters May 12, brings together bus, light rail, Amtrak and, in 2016, commuter rail, all under one roof. The design is light and airy with bright yellow tiles on white walls and a terrazzo floor. With the brand new 22-gate underground bus facility located where an abandoned rail yard used to exist, the area has been transformed into a hip urban environment with new buildings, new businesses and more transportation options for commuters in and out of Denver. The high-tech ventilation system automatically monitors carbon monoxide levels and sucks out bad air as needed. Over 1,100 buses are expected to pass through the new underground facility each day.

    The surrounding area will boast more than 100,000 square feet of restaurants, retail stores and boutiques when construction is complete, with acres of public spaces designed with local Colorado plants, water features and trees to provide shade. On July 12, the Crawford Hotel will open inside the historic Union Station treating travelers to the unique hospitality of the west.

    New free services include MetroRide, which allows commuters quick access between Union Station and Civic Center via 18th and 19th Streets during peak rush hours. New MetroRide buses will be uniquely branded for easy identification. And the free MallRide, which has carried more than 13 million passengers up and down the 16th Street Mall since 1982, will now provide access to Union Station and the underground bus concourse. The old Market Street Station will close after 30 years, and as of May 11, buses will run through Union Station.

    Future expansion plans for the RTD system include Commuter Rail in 2016, which will connect downtown Denver to the East Rail Line and Denver International Airport (DIA), the Gold Light Rail Line to Arvada/Wheat Ridge and the Northwest Rail Line to Westminster. In November of 2006, the T-REX project was completed, which brought light rail service to the Southwest corridor and includes 13 new stations with parking at all but the Louisiana/Pearl stop. The West Rail Line opened April 26, 2013, offering rail service from downtown to Jefferson County Courthouse and Red Rocks Community College (RRCC). Some stops on the West Rail Line, such as the RRCC stop, were not intended to have parking lots nearby. Students who attend the college are faced with a mile walk up to the campus or a wait for an RTD bus to haul them up the hill. Despite such challenges for commuters, per the RTD website, rider ship rose 28.8% from 2012 to 2013 with just under 102 million boarding in 2013.

    Denver Public Works department is planning to transform the old Market Street Station into a public parking garage with approximately 80 spaces available. Sean Mackin, manager of parking operations for the city of Denver, told the Denver Business Journal, “That's the best use of the facility in it's current state. It keeps the location active and generates revenue.” The reinvented facility could be open as early as July.

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