Inadequate Planning, Limited Revenue, and Rising Costs Undermine Efforts to Sustain Washington, DC’s, Union Station
Union Station is Washington, DC’s main multimodal transportation hub as well as a commercial retail center. Each year, it serves millions of rail passengers, transit riders, residents, and tourists. The station is a Federal heritage asset, owned by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). In 1983, the Department of Transportation (DOT) created the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) to manage and oversee Union Station’s operations. Presently, Union Station is undergoing repairs, major interior renovations, and other significant changes to improve access to trains, Metrorail, and buses. These high-dollar investments warrant increased oversight to avoid cost overruns, wasted funds, and damage to Union Station’s historical and functional value.
While FRA retains authority for adopting and enforcing building and safety codes, this authority has not been effectively executed, raising concerns about potential lapses in safety oversight. DOT and FRA have relied on USRC to effectively manage Union Station. However, USRC has not adequately planned for Union Station’s future. In addition, Union Station’s capital maintenance reserve fund is at risk of depletion and faces a potential shortfall of more than $5 million by September 30, 2014. The actual extent of the shortfall cannot be accurately estimated because the condition of various building components is unknown.
FRA generally concurred with our recommendations to improve the management and oversight of Union Station, and proposed actions to address them. Once these actions have been completed, we will assess their effectiveness in meeting the intent of our recommendations.