RTD: Union Station construction is proof FasTracks project is now on right track
Renovated station will include hotel
Last Updated: 112 days ago
DENVER - Nearly two months into construction work, Denver's iconic Union Station is reawakening.
"This will be the new center of downtown," said Walter Isenberg, President and CEO of Sage Hospitality. The company will eventually lease the building.
Touring Union Station, you can see the progress that's been made. In the attic, some of the 112 hotel rooms being built are taking shape. Renovation work is also already taking place on the expansive Grand Hall, which will eventually feature original benches from Union Station that are being restored.
"We're really preserving the amazing historic fabric of this building while bringing it into the 21st century," Isenberg said.
Eventually 100,000 people a day will pass through the building from Amtrak, light rail and commuter trains that will stop under a canopy being erected behind Union Station. The canopy will resemble the tent roof over the main terminal of Denver International Airport.
RTD officials said the progress at Union Station is symbolic of the progress FasTracks, the metro area mass transit project, is seeing. Union Station will serve as the heart of FasTracks.
"People talk about the challenges we've had financially, but we're coming out of that," RTD CEO Phillip Washington told 7NEWS.
The FasTracks project as a whole has been dogged in the past by controversial budget woes. 7NEWS confirmed the rest of the project, including plans for new light rail lines, still faces a nearly $2 billion budget shortfall.
Part of the plan to address the shortfall includes lobbying state lawmakers to provide RTD with a share of taxes already collected on sales of items like soda and candy. 7NEWS asked RTD's head what he'd say to people who may be frustrated financially with the FasTracks project as a whole.
"At this point, I would not be frustrated," Washington said. "We are building. We have 70 percent of this project under construction or contract."
Washington said the strategy ahead includes focusing on the timing of constructing the remaining FasTracks projects.
Washington said there are bright spots, including the planned April opening of a new western corridor light rail line. The line will open eight months ahead of schedule and is under budget.
RTD has also seen an 8 percent increase in collection of its sales tax.
Union Station is scheduled to reopen in mid-2014.
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