Denver's new Union Station opens this weekend

DENVER - Denver's remodeled Union Station hosted its grand opening Friday, but there's more to come.

On Friday, RTD is marking the opening of the new bus concourse with food trucks and free stuff from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Bus service begins this weekend, but the restaurants and new hotel won't open until July.

The half-a-billion-dollar transit center has been four years in the making and is expected to serve 15,000 passengers every day, increasing up to 200,000 passengers per day by 2030. The new transportation hub is located just west of the old Union Station, which was built in the late 1800s.

Skylights in the concourse bring natural light to parts of the station below street level, which has 22 bus terminals and will serve 16 current RTD bus routes. One expense that was spared was WiFi access, because the location is meant to be a transfer hub and passengers won't be there for long.

"This is a sub-in station," said Jerry Nery, RTD Union Station project manager. "So if you're coming in from any of our commuter rails or Amtrak, you gotta come in and then go back out. And it's about a 10 to 15 minute period."

The station is planning to connect downtown with the Denver International Airport by 2016, when the new East Rail Line is expected to be complete.

Additionally, a new free shuttle, the MetroRide, will run parallel to the 16th Street Mall, helping to decongest the area by taking passengers up and down 18th and 19th streets.

Nine restaurants are planned for the new Union Station including Fruition Restaurant, The Kitchen Next Door and Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. The restaurants, along with the 112-room Crawford Hotel are scheduled to open in July.

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