By Eugene “Jesse” Nash IV
BALTIMORE – Baltimore’s landmark Penn Station, a hub for Amtrak and Marc commuter rail service, is slated to undergo $90 million in renovations, Amtrak announced Thursday.
“By investing in the modernization of Baltimore Penn Station, Amtrak seeks to transform central Baltimore into a premier regional transportation hub that will provide new amenities and transit connections,” said Amtrak President and CEO Richard Anderson. “This work is part of Amtrak’s ongoing efforts to improve the customer experience and grow passenger rail.”
Maryland lawmakers applauded the announcement.
“Commuters throughout Maryland rely on Baltimore Penn Station every day,” Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both Democrats, said in a joint statement. “This funding will make necessary updates to improve the lives of those who live and work in our community.”
“We’re glad to see this significant investment in the station, and we will continue working in the Senate to modernize infrastructure across our state,” the senators added.
Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings, who lives in the city, praised the agency’s efforts to improve the community around the station.
“I am very excited about this partnership, & I applaud Amtrak for their financial commitment to the revitalization of Penn Station,” the congressman tweeted. “I look forward to working with Amtrak, Penn Station Partners, & the Baltimore community to ensure that this project reflects our local priorities.”
The station sees more than a million passengers a year, according to Amtrak.
The plans are to “expand and modernize” the century-old structure at the heart of Baltimore, Amtrak said.
The nation’s eighth-busiest Amtrak station will see new bike and walking paths and the addition of parking spaces, according to development vision concepts released by the assigned developers, Penn Station Partners. The development group is comprised of around a dozen consulting, design and construction firms.
As part of the planned renovations, one of the existing platforms will be redone and a new platform will be added. Plans so far have envisioned preserving the existing historic structure.
Developers are going to lease neighboring land to build a mixed-use project that will include apartments, shops and offices.
From the conception of the project, developers involved have turned to the community for recommendations, holding a public forum last July.
“This is an important project for the city of Baltimore and one that we need to get right,” Michael Beatty, president of Beatty Development Group, one of the contractors involved, said in a statement.
Residents of the surrounding Mount Vernon neighborhood told developers in July that they wanted improvements to the station that would help foster a sense of community in the area. Suggestions included a public playground, art pieces, and a basketball court, according to a summary report.
Penn Station Partners acknowledged the comments but has not given detailed plans for the renovations yet.
This update comes on the heels of reconstruction to the other central train station in the city, Camden Station, which began in Fall 2018. Renovations to Camden Station are expected to be completed this summer, according to a Marc statement.
This article originally appeared in The Afro.