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Here's when Raleigh's Union Station will open and why it has taken so long

Raleigh’s new Union Station opens

Raleigh dedicates its new $87 million glass and steel railroad station on the western edge of downtown.
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Raleigh dedicates its new $87 million glass and steel railroad station on the western edge of downtown.

After several delays, Raleigh's new $111 million downtown train station is expected to be ready for passengers on June 27.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods said the railroad will be ready to begin service from the new station that day, when its operations move across the tracks from the existing station off Cabarrus Street.

The extra time to complete Raleigh Union Station is needed to address a problem with the slope of the passenger platform, said Allan Paul, deputy director of the N.C. Department of Transportation Rail Division.

The slope from the center of the platform out toward the edge was 1 percent too steep in places to meet Amtrak and federal specifications and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, Paul said. That slope can be no more than 2 percent — enough to allow water to roll off but not so steep that strollers, wheelchairs and other wheeled objects are in constant danger of rolling onto the tracks.

David Eatman, the city's transit administrator, said contractors will have the problem fixed by June 27, a Wednesday. Eatman said there are two basic ways to remedy the slope problem: adding concrete to the platform or shaving concrete off. He wasn't sure which method contractors will use.

Also not finished is the main vehicle entryway into the station, where West Street descends then turns into a drive under a set of tracks and comes up in a circle in front of the building. Eatman said that area is not ready because of some late work on drainage.

"That should also be pretty much wrapped up by the 27th as well," he said.

Raleigh Union Station originally was expected to be finished in late 2017. In late March of this year, when the city announced the date for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 30, it said passengers would begin using the station in late May. At the ceremony, that date had been put off until early June.

Nearly 151,000 people got on or off Amtrak trains in Raleigh in the year ending Sept. 30, 2017, making it the second-busiest train station in North Carolina after Charlotte. With the addition of another round-trip Piedmont train between Raleigh and Charlotte last week, 10 trains a day stop at the station now, and that could grow to 12 in two years.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling
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