St. Paul’s Union Depot: Silent now, but soon …

By Frederick Melo
Pioneer Press Twincities.com

In the early 1880s, the Union Depot became the center of St. Paul’s transit infrastructure. Freight and passenger rail lines soon linked St. Paul to Chicago and destinations across the Midwest. By the mid-1900s, the rebuilt depot had grown to accommodate more than 280 trains and 20,000 passengers per day.

Some consider that ancient history. Others, a sign of things to come.

On Tuesday afternoon, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough and a packed tent of public officials broke ground on the renovation of a new Union Depot — heralded as a future hub for St. Paul’s burgeoning “multimodal” public transit system.

“It’s a great day to celebrate,” said state Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, who chaired the House Capital Investment Committee at a critical time for securing state and federal funding for the project.

Moments later, an orange excavator dug into a series of old Postal Service loading bays, ripping out giant chunks of wall to make room for what will become an elevated train deck and passenger loading platform off Kellogg Boulevard, near St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood.

The ceremony’s mood was festive and congratulatory. By 2030, the Union Depot could serve as many as 3.8 million riders annually via Amtrak, Greyhound and Jefferson bus lines, Metro Transit, the Central Corridor light-rail line to downtown Minneapolis and — some hope — high-speed rail lines.

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