The redevelopment of Union Station in Springfield, Massachusetts into a regional transportation hub – a project that took decades to realize – is one year away from completion
The $88.5 million taxpayer-funded project is on-time and on-budget according to Christopher Moskal, executive director of the Springfield Redevelopment Authority.
"Right on budget, right on time we should be open to the public in late December ( 2016)," said Moskal.
Between now and December 2016, construction workers will build a six-level parking garage with 400 spaces, a 26-bay terminal for inner-city and transit buses, and a new rail boarding platform. The 90-year-old terminal building, which has been closed to the public since 1973 will be completely renovated.
Seventy-five government, civic, and business leaders toured the active job site Tuesday as Dan Lanneville, an executive with the company that is supervising the construction for the SRA, pointed out highlights of what has been done so far and -- with the help of artist’s renderings—what is to come.
Springfield Chief Development Officer Kevin Kennedy said the city Tuesday released a formal request for proposals to lease 66,000 square feet of space that will be available in the renovated main terminal building.
"All the tenanting, both commercial and retail is in motion and we hope to have a lot of progress on that over the next few months," said Kennedy.
Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, who proposed redeveloping Union Station when he was the mayor of Springfield in the late-1980s, and as a Congressman secured $43 million in federal funding for the project, said he was both professionally and personally satisfied with the progress.
"I am delighted," said Neal. " It has been a career effort for me when you consider the stops and starts I've undertaken to get us here."
After several false starts through the decades, the Union Station project that is now a year away from completion was unveiled in 2008 with a budget of $65 million. Officials blame the more than $23 million increase on unforeseen construction problems that stem from the age of the derelict terminal building.
The opening of the new Union Station late next year will coincide with railroad track improvements in Connecticut that accommodate an additional 14-16 trains per day between Springfield and Hartford.
Neal said he is working to get direct daily train service between Springfield and Boston.
State Senator Eric Lesser, who is a member of the legislature’s joint transportation committee, said the Senate approved funding for a feasibility study into east-west rail service and he hopes the Massachusetts House will support it.
"There are few things we can do in western Mass that would have a bigger economic impact than investing in and improving our rail service," said Lesser.
Springfield city officials believe once the new Union Station opens it will be a catalyst for more economic development in the North Main Street corridor.
An estimated 5-8 million people, annually, are projected to pass through the doors of Union Station.