If you're taking an Amtrak train this week, don't go to Raleigh Union Station just yet. The opening of the city's new downtown railroad hub has been delayed again.
Amtrak had expected to move into its new home from the old station on Cabarrus Street in time for the morning trains on Wednesday. But lingering work on the platform has continued into this week, and now the trains won't begin stopping at the station until July, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The platform was still covered with workers in yellow and orange vests and hard hats on Tuesday, working to fix a problem with the platform's slope. 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. 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 have been adding concrete to the platform in some places and shaving concrete off in others to get to an acceptable slope. The work has been slowed by warm daytime temperatures, Eatman said.
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Eatman said when the platform is ready, Amtrak will need to bring in some IT specialists to help it make the overnight move from one station to the other. He said Amtrak can't commit to sending those specialists Raleigh until it knows the work on the platform is done.
"We have to make sure when they book their flights that we're very sure that we’re ready," Eatman 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 earlier this month, 10 trains a day stop at the station now, and that could grow to 12 in two years.