Amtrak and Penn Station Partners on Oct. 22 held a groundbreaking ceremony for the redevelopment and expansion of the historic Baltimore Penn Station on the Northeast Corridor in Maryland. (The Office of Maryland Governor Larry Hogan photo)
Amtrak and Penn Station Partners on Oct. 22 held a groundbreaking ceremony for the redevelopment and expansion of the historic Baltimore Penn Station on the Northeast Corridor in Maryland.
As part of a $150 million investment in the station upgrades, Amtrak executed a Master Development Agreement in April 2019 with Penn Station Partners, led by Beatty Development Group and Cross Street Partners. Planning and development due diligence had been ongoing for more than a year prior to that.
Penn Street Partners was chosen by Amtrak to be the project's primary developer.
The conceptual plan first calls for the full, historic preservation of Baltimore Penn Station, which was built in 1911. Working closely with Amtrak, the development team will make vital core and shell improvements to the station, the passenger railroad announced via a press release.
The station's last major renovation was completed in 1984 as part of the Northeast Corridor Improvement Project. Pre-pandemic, more than three million Amtrak and Maryland Rail Commuter (MARC) riders moved through the transportation hub each year. Its redevelopment will better accommodate ridership growth and improve the customer experience, according to the Amtrak statement.
In addition to the improvements Penn Station Partners is delivering, Amtrak is making platform upgrades to accommodate its new Acela high speed trains, which are set for launch in 2022. The rebuilding of a low-level platform into an ADA-compliant high-level platform, and the construction of a new platform, also will be performed, Railway Age reported.
This work, along with a renewed overhead electrical system and an upgraded 30-mi. stretch of track between Baltimore and Washington Union Station, will enable trains to operate at higher speeds, Amtrak noted, adding that the work would improve on-time performance for high-speed operations.
Platform construction work has already begun and building façade renovations will start later this year. Following that, the building process will continue in phases to complete the station renovation and expansion over the next few years. The enlargement of the train station onto the Amtrak-owned Lanvale lot is set to commence next spring.
"Today we begin a new chapter for Baltimore Penn Station," Bill Flynn, Amtrak's CEO, said in the company's news release. "In partnership with Penn Station Partners, we are set to transform Penn Station into a premier regional transportation hub. This construction will serve as the catalyst to transform surrounding vacant land already owned by Amtrak into a mixed-use, transit-oriented development with up to one million sq ft. of new office, retail and residential space."
Cross Street Partners CEO Bill Struever added, "The redevelopment and revitalization of Baltimore's Penn Station and the surrounding district is critical to the economic health of the city. We are fully committed to realizing the potential of this station as a true anchor for the growth of the local community and the city of Baltimore, and we are immensely grateful for the support of Amtrak as we continue laying the groundwork for this important project."
Amit Bose, deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, signaled his department's approval of the project, according to Railway Age.
"We applaud Amtrak and Penn Station Partners on commencing this transformational station rehabilitation," Bose said. "This project is the embodiment of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda. Baltimore residents, businesses, as well as those traveling on MARC and Amtrak, will all benefit from a modern and fully accessible facility."
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