Proposed design of the new Metrorail Union Station First Street entrance. Image by WMATA.

The Union Station Metro entrance along First Street NE will soon expand. The plan calls for moving the entrance from its current location and adding fare gates and stairs to make getting to the Amtrak concourse easier. Construction is set to begin this winter.

The entrance today. Image by WMATA.

Outside the station, Metro plans to relocate the First Street entrance a little further north. The new entrance will be in front of where the station’s fare gates are now, and the old space (where it is now) will be used for a new ADA-accessible ramp.

Image by WMATA.

Three new fare gates will be added inside the station, as well as a set of stairs to take passengers up to the Union Station concourse.

Captioned image showing the mezzanine-level changes at the First Street entrance. Base map by WMATA. Image by BeyondDC.

The designs of the station construction, created for Metro by architects KGP Design Studio, received approval from the Commission of Fine Arts in 2014 and from DDOT earlier in 2017, allowing the project to move forward.

Heat map of the Union Station north mezzanine showing passenger crowding. The construction announced Monday hopes to keep this crowding low for years to come. Image by WMATA.

Metro initially studied expanding the station entrance in 2010 and 2011 because the station was reaching its capacity. The project is now moving forward along with Amtrak’s construction project to expand the concourse space available in Union Station.

There were bigger ideas for Union Station, but they won’t come to fruition

Metro’s study back in 2010 yielded several proposals, including a “full build” option which would, in addition to what was announced today, have also added stairs and escalators between the Metrorail platform and the Amtrak concourse.

There was also the possibility of opening up a pedestrian tunnel from the First Street mezzanine directly to H Street, but Metro is not going to do that. A bank of elevators leading up to near where the Au Bon Pain store inside the Union Station is now could also have been added, if the original design had been moved forward.

The current layout (left) and the plans from 2010 (right). Image by Matt' Johnson.

The proposal announced today will cost $5 million, compared to $29 and $36 million for the partial and full build options. The Capital Program, Planning and Real Estate Committee will vote on the proposal on Thursday, and then the full Metro board will likely approve it later in the month.

Stephen Repetski is a Virginia native and has lived in the Fairfax area for over 20 years. He has a BS in Applied Networking and Systems Administration from Rochester Institute of Technology and works in Information Technology. Learning about, discussing, and analyzing transit (especially planes and trains) is a hobby he enjoys.