Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Union Depot Groundbreaking

January 8, 2011

$243 million renovation is expected to generate 3,000 new jobs and will transform the depot into state-of-the-art transportation, retail and community hub

SAINT PAUL – January 18, 2011 – Major renovation work on The Union Depot began today with demolition activities, making way for new train tracks and bus lanes. This milestone signals the start of major construction to restore the 1920s train depot to its original purpose as the region’s transportation hub, as well as a new destination for retail, art, music, food and drink.

“The people of Saint Paul, the State of Minnesota and the entire Midwest are the beneficiaries of this strategic partnership of federal, state and county governments that will create new jobs for our community and build the foundation for future prosperity and growth of the region,” said Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority Chair Jim McDonough.

Under the direction of the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority, the 33-acre Depot site will be transformed into a state-of-the-art multimodal Midwest regional transit hub, bringing together rail, bus, motor vehicles, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. In addition, the destination will become a magnet for shopping and entertainment.

“The Union Depot is a major investment and a long-term commitment. But in today’s global economy, an investment of this scale is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” said Minnesota Fourth District Congresswoman Betty McCollum.

The Union Depot project brings welcomed jobs and economic stimulus to Saint Paul and the region, creating some 3,000 jobs for all companies involved in the project on-site and off-site. Over the two-year construction period, on-site trades jobs are estimated to be 1,200, totaling 750,000 work hours. Peak on-site workforce will be 300, and more than 95 percent of the on-site jobs are expected to be local tradespeople.

When completed in 2012, Amtrak’s Empire Builder service, currently located at a station in the Midway area of St. Paul, will relocate to The Union Depot. In addition, The Union Depot will be the terminus or transfer point for Central Corridor light rail transit as well as Metro Transit; Jefferson Lines and Greyhound intercity and regional bus lines; bicyclists and pedestrians. The Depot will be a hub for future regional transitways including the corridors of Rush Line, Red

Rock, Gateway, Robert Street, and Riverview. Plans are for future high-speed rail from Chicago to also stop at the Depot.

“Today we are celebrating a transformation for Lowertown, the City of Saint Paul and the entire metropolitan area,” said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman. “From electric vehicles to high-speed rail, The Union Depot will be at the center of how we get to where we need to go. The unique combination of historic preservation and future multi-modal transportation will make The Union Depot a model for the rest of the country.”

The Union Depot project will vie for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification, utilizing some of the most innovative environmental and energy efficient techniques available, under the direction of Minnesota-based Mortenson Construction, the lead design-build contractor. A national leader in the advancement of sustainable design and construction, Mortenson has built more than 120 LEED certified or green projects nationally.

“The Union Depot renovation combines the delicate job of historic restoration with the challenges of heavy civil railroad and infrastructure work,” said Dan Mehls, director of project development for Mortenson Construction. “We are honored to lead this signature project for the Ramsey County Regional Railroad Authority.”

The renovation will restore The Union Depot to its original grandeur. The last passenger train departed The Union Depot on April 30, 1971, and the Depot was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

The team of Mortenson Construction; HGA Architects and Engineers; and URS, transportation and engineering design, will return the Union Depot to its original purpose of showcasing and celebrating the region’s vast rail and transportation resources. In addition, the firm of Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP provided historical renovation review of the Depot. TKDA, a Saint Paul firm, was the structural engineer of record for the original construction completed in 1923, and is currently on the team providing mechanical, electrical, and rail support.

The entire Union Depot renovation project will cost $243 million, of which $35 million will be provided by a federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. The Union Depot also has been identified as a project of national and regional significance in the federal transportation bill, and has been awarded $50 million over the next five years. Other funding will be provided by federal, state, and county sources.