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June 26 Public Reopening Set For Springfield's Union Station

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WAMC
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The countdown is on to the public re-opening of Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts following a $95 million dollar restoration.

More than 40 years after it closed, Union Station will reopen on June 26th to serve train, inner-city and local transit authority bus passengers, as a modern intermodal transportation hub that recalls the heyday of Twentieth Century train travel.

The public reopening will preceeded by a weekend of events including a  Saturday night black tie gala and Sunday open houses.  The Union Station opening weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of Congressman Richard Neal’s political career, when he announced his candidacy for Springfield City Council with a promise to oneday restore and reopen Union Station.

After decades of false starts, Neal, as a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee was able to get the project across the finish line.

Neal showed off the renovated Union Station to a gathering a media, civic leaders, and others who participated in the project.

" Sometimes in the course of a career one has the chance to participate in a 'it will never happen moment'," said Neal.

Neal secured 80 percent of the funding for the project from the Federal Gov, starting in 2008. He said in today’s political climate in Washington that would not be possible.

The Union Station project spanned the administrations of Massachusetts Gov Deval Patrick, a Democrat, and current Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican.   The state paid for 20 percent of the project.

The restored Union Station features the original Terrazo floors, the original analog clock, refurbished to working condition, restored artifacts including an authentic baggage cart and recreated period lighting.

There are modern travel amenities including a large electronic sign board, and wifi.  There will be a new train boarding platform, a 26 bay bus terminal and 377-space parking garage.

Union Station is reopening as train travel is making a comeback, according to Springfield Chief Development officer Kevin Kennedy.

"Springfield will be the better for it and we are looking forward to some very very good years," said Kennedy.

The Hartford Line commuter rail system is scheduled to become operational in 2018  and that will mean a dozen roundtrip trains a day between New Haven and Springfield.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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