NCPC file number 7746
July 7, 2022
Thank you, Commissioners and staff, for your work on behalf of our great Capital City.
The 25-year-old Coalition for Smarter Growth advocates for walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented communities as the most sustainable and equitable way for the Washington, DC region to grow and provide opportunities for all.
We enthusiastically support the updated and much improved plan.
When we last commented on the FRA’s plans for Union Station in January 2020, we affirmed our strong support for expanding rail service and the station, but shared significant concerns about the proposed retention of thousands of above ground parking spaces which undermined the entire design and facility.
Therefore, we are very pleased to see removal of the garage and the significant reduction in parking spaces. However, in our view 860 is still too many (we heard that 400 to 700 was possible and we urge the lower end of the range). Overwhelming focus must be on transit, pedestrian and bicycle access, as well as pick-up and drop-off.
Removal of the parking garage and placement of the parking underground allows for a truly transformative design with the amazing train concourse and much improved access to the trains, bus station, and pick-up and drop-off. It is a testament to the value of public input, of reducing the impact of cars, and of considering creative alternatives.
We like the location and design of the single level bus station placing it in a prominent location next to the train hall and encourage reaching operational solutions to meet demand.
We concur with the vehicle access points but ask you to ensure that the ramp on G Street and other vehicle access points not endanger safe ped/bike access.
The upper pick-up and drop-off roadway must allow for safe ped/bike access through well-marked crossings, traffic calming, and on scene safety monitors. Bicycle access to the station is important and the plan should include a well-located, secure, modern, and easy to use bike station similar to those in Europe.
We ask that you restore seating to both the Main Hall of the historic station and to the new concourses. People need comfortable places to sit while awaiting their trains and buses, and good seating contributes to a positive experience while using transit – helping rail service compete with driving. Please ensure that the historic Main Hall remains an active part of the
rail service operations – with a clear, easy connection to Metrorail and frequent bus service via Columbus Circle.
Finally, we commend your attention to the positive letter of support from ANC-6C who told me they were unable to attend in person today, and who worked closely with the planners to improve the design and circulation.
We urge your approval with appropriate recommendations for the issues we have highlighted. The Union Station Plan is very exciting – a great new vision for our region’s premier transportation hub.
(Testimony updated and amended for presentation at the NCPC hearing on July 7, 2022. Original comments submitted to NCPC are dated June 29, 2022)