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The Right Side of the Tracks
A much cooler Greyhound station than D.C.s. Photo by Lee Otis.

A much cooler Greyhound station than D.C.s. Photo by Lee Otis.

These plans for a new bus terminal and mixed-use development behind Union Station have the potential to be truly transformative.

First, by connecting the Greyhound bus station to Union station, you make it functionally intermodal. You can take local transit or commuter rail to the bus station, or you could use their new bike station. Putting it all under one roof creates the connections that make it one transportation system rather than a rail system, a bus system and a local transit system. Moreover, bus stations traditionally are often real drags on the neighborhood. By taking the bus terminal off 1st Street NE and integrating it with Union Station, you should simultaneously mitigate the negative aspects of bus terminals and remove a blighting structure from a rapidly revitalizing area.

The effect of this is greatly augmented by the proposal to build over the tracks behind the station. I’ve already written about how difficult these same train tracks make it to have vibrancy along the New York Avenue corridor. The same dynamic is true behind Union Station; cities don’t like dead ends. I can’t quite tell how far back these two developments would extend, but the combination of moving the Greyhound terminal with development on top of the tracks is exactly the kind of synergism that could radically reshape the entire neighborhood between Union Station and the New York Ave Red Line station.

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