Photo by the author.

A project is almost complete to reconstruct the plaza in front of Union station. Unfortunately, Amtrak police continue to pull their cars up on the curb and park in the pedestrian areas.

The plaza was once a wasteland of traffic lanes and hadn’t been properly maintained for years. The reconstruction project, which included Amtrak and multiple local and federal agencies, can make it an attractive and welcoming gateway to DC. The design treated all forms of traffic well — pedestrians, bicycles, cars, and bus.

Unfortunately, the police parking helped cause damage to the curbs and sidewalks before, and will do so again if this practice continues. It’s highly unlikely that the sidewalks and curbs were reinforced strongly enough to withstand the pressure from mutli-ton vehicles.

It’s easy to see a parallel with other examples of infrastructure in DC, like this story about Woodson High School, where we spend big bucks on nice new things, then fail to maintain them right after the construction is done.

Police presence and patrols are necessary in highly visible, active areas like a major train station. There has to be a better way and some better locations for police to leave their vehicles, though.