As governments and transportation agencies around the country seek ways to upgrade and improve their systems, integrated transportation networks, integrated transportation networks, or "intermodalism" is emerging as a strong trend. The overriding goal of these networks, which are based on many types of transportation funneling into the fanning out of a single location, is to create an efficient and seamless movement from one system to another for travelers and commuters.
Since the mid-1990s, the U.S. Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) has been a powerful impetus in the nationwide move toward intermodal. Now, municipalities and state transportation agencies are finding that old rail stations and terminals offer precisely the right combination of location, size, facilities, acreage, commercial potential and affordability to work as multimodal facilities.
As a result, a growing number of venerable structures, including many that narrowly escaped demolition during the public-transit doldrums of the 1960s, are in effect being "recycled" -- cleaned up, refurbished, reconstructed, and in some cases, even relocated to service modern transportation needs.
The following projects -- all old rail stations or terminals that have been made an important part of a new transportation picture -- are diverse in geography, history and status of completion.
They represent a new kind ofthinking, in which the mobility, comfort and concerns of patrons are controlling factors.
DUDLEY STATION, BOSTON
Located in the Roxbury section of Boston, Dudley Station served for more than 80 years as the southern terminus of the elevated Orange Line. The Orange Line was replaced in the late 1980s by the Southwest Corridor subway, which passes about a half mile from Dudley Square.
To compensate the community for lost train service, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) increased the number of bus lines into Dudley Square. Many of these lines had to force their way through dark, narrowdirectly under Dudley Station, which was now vacant and waiting for demolition.
Built in 1901, Dudley Station had been designed in the popular Beaux Arts style by noted Boston architect A.W. Longfellow. On the exterior, ribbed copper canopies sheltered passenger platforms. Inside, a series of steel-roof arches were suffused with light from clerestory windows.
The general objective was to open up the area with wider streets, more parking facilities and comfortable passenger waiting areas. Detaching Dudley Station from its 12-foot columns and transporting it 180 feet to a location where it would serve as the primary passenger shelter in the square was a key factor in this plan.
The process had to be completed while preserving the historical elements of the station. The 392-ton station was braced, separated from its support columns, lowered to the ground and rolled on rails across the square.
New passenger shelters were designed to replicate the main building, and the new terminal reflected the original design, emphasizing natural light and generous site distances.
Completed in late 1993, the Dudley bus terminal became the busiest in the MBTA network, providing weekday service to about 10,000 riders.
According to Amy MacNeil, press secretary for the MBTA, the relocation, reconstruction and expansion of Dudley Station has allowed for efficient bus-to-bus transfers between 15 connecting routes using more than 100 buses per hour "in a manner consistent with the grandiose design of the original station while signaling the beginning of the area's much awaited economic revitalization."
KINGSTON RAILROAD STATION, SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I.
The second New England restoration also involved moving an old station. In this case, the distance covered was only 16 feet.
Located 27 miles south of Providence in South Kingstown, the Kingston Railroad Station was built in 1875 as a depot for the New York, Providence and Boston Railroad. The two-story, wood-frame structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the late 1980s, following a serious fire that destroyed the building's roof, local citizens' groups, particularly the Friends of the Kingston Railroad Station, began a persistent campaign for its complete restoration. Subsequently, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), with major funding from ISTEA, embarked on a project to convert Kingston Station into the pivotal structure of a new intermodal center.
Unlike many much larger stations around the country, Kingston Station had remained very active through the 1970s and 1980s. When the restoration began in September 1994, the facility served 20 train stops a day on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and was the second busiest Amtrak station in Rhode Island.
In addition, the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority used the station as a base for 12 local and express bus trips that ran daily between the University of Rhode Island, Newport and Galilee, where the ferry steamer departs for Block Island. Temporary ticket-sales offices and waiting areas were set up so business and travel could continue during the restoration.
The new intermodal facility will accommodate both its previous train and bus volumes as well as expected increases in both those modes. The potential to run an extension of the Providence-Westerly commuter rail line through South Kingstown and Kingston Station is now under study.
In addition, construction is slated to start this year on an eight-mile bicycle path from the station to Narragansett Pier. As in most modern intermodal centers, strong emphasis is placed on clear, comfortable and direct passages and walkways for pedestrians both inside and outside the station.
Moving the old station 16 feet to widen the right-of-way for the anticipated increase in high-speed train movements was key to the $3.2-million project.
Funding for the rehabilitation is attributed largely to Senator John Chaffee, head of the Congressional Environment and Public Works Committee. "He personally ensured that $2 million in ISTEA "Demonstration' funds were set aside for the project," says Charles Hawkins, staff assistant for the senator.
Additional improvements include a new foundation that will raise the station and allow for high-level passenger platforms, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Other interior and exterior elements will be restored, particularly the parts of the north end of the building that were damaged by fire. New facilities for motorists include a 230-space parking lot and improved access to U.S. Route 138, a direct connection to Interstate 95 five miles to the west.
"We are aggressively promoting national and international tourism along the Rhode Island portion of the Northeast Corridor, and there is a great advantage in having a restored Victorian railroad station along the route," says Ann O'Neill, president of South County Tourism Council.
"Tourists traveling south from Boston will find this beautiful historical structure a very convenient intermodal connection to the shore and the hinterland where there are 85 bed and breakfast inns," she says. "Kingston Station enhances the ambiance of public travel and promotes interest in the history of the area."
The restoration is scheduled for completion in late 1996. Despite its relatively small scale, the Kingston facility is expected to provide state-of-the-art intermodal services.
It has also served as a model for similar RIDOT projects involving historic rail stations in the towns of Woonsocket, north of Providence, and Westerly, on the Connecticut state line.
UNION TERMINAL, JACKSONVILLE, FLA.
Located on Florida's St. Johns River, Jacksonville is the most populous city in one of the fastest-growing states in the country. The city recently initiated its River City Renaissance Program, a $200-million undertaking to improve environmental, economic, cultural and recreational facilities.
In the spirit of that program, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) and the architectural and engineering firm selected a 50-acre site that now contains Skyway Station, the Prime Osborn Convention Center and the city's historic Union Terminal.
Constructed in 1919 at a cost of $750,000, Union Terminal was and remains an impressive engineering and architectural achievement. The Greek-revival building has 14 Doric columns, each weighing 45 tons, aligned across its front. The main waiting room, or great hall, measures 125 feet by 80 feet and has a vaulted dome 70 feet above the floor. Patrons purchased their tickets from 12 bronze booths.
Access from the terminal to a pedestrian subway allowed train travelers to reach the platforms without walking across tracks.
Union Terminal was closed to passenger train service in 1977 and was saved from demolition in the 1980s by the efforts of local groups. The structure was restored shortly afterward as part of the construction of the Prime Osborn Center.
The JTC will potentially integrate local and regional transportation modes, including Amtrak, the Automated Skyway Express, future high-speed rail and commuter rail, Greyhound and local bus service, regional highways and principal arterials.
Recommendations were made for express buses or shuttles to connect the center to remote transportation modes and destinations such as Jacksonville International Airport, the Port of Jacksonville and the Gator Bowl, home of the city's new NFL team, the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Other recommendations include a roadway ramp linking Interstate 95 with the JTC parking deck and a new heliport/rotorport. While the historic station will definitely have a role in the JTC, the nature of that role has not yet been clearly defined.
The potential for using the great hall as a passenger waiting area and reopening the old booths for ticket sales now is under study.
SEABOARD RAILROAD STATION, WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.
With its 95,000 residents, West Palm Beach is home to 10 percent of the total population of Florida's Palm Beach County. The city is a key market outlet and transfer point for inland agricultural produce, and in recent years has experienced an impressive surge in downtown development.
The Palm Beach County Intermodal Transit Facility is an integral part of that continuing development, and it will serve as a focal point for regional transit systems, create a gateway to the city and promote economic growth. Construction begins in 1996. Critical to the plan is the continued use of the recently restored Seaboard Railroad Station, which opened on Jan. 25, 1925, with the arrival of the legendary Orange Blossom Special.
The station served as a junction for the Florida East Coast Railway, which traveled south from Jacksonville's Union Station, and the Seaboard Coastline Railroad, which ran from Coleman in central Florida to Homestead at the end of the peninsula. The station became a stop for Amtrak trains in 1971. Since 1988, Seaboard Station has also served as the northernmost terminus of the Tri-County Commuter Rail System, which extends 67 miles south to Miami.
The station building itself is an outstanding example of the Mediterranean Revival style of early 20th-century railroad architecture. In 1991, the Florida Department of Transportation provided funding for a project to restore the building to its original stateliness. Under the current plan, the station will connect to the main portion of the transit facility, which will be built on a 6.5-acre site across the tracks.
The Transit Facility will become the organization center for local circulation routes in the downtown area with feeder routes extending beyond the downtown area, local bus routes and mainline rail transit routes. Plan provisions include a future high-speed rail system; Airport/Seaport Transit Corridor; Tri-Rail feeder bus routes; downtown circulation buses; incorporation of Greyhound bus routes; truck, auto and taxi pick-up and drop-off points; door-to-door "dial-a-ride" services for the elderly and handicapped; easy access and secure storage areas for bicyclists; and a joint development parcel.
A strong emphasis is placed on broad, well-lit and clearly signed pedestrian walkways that will simplify transfer from one mode to another. Other recommendations include shuttle buses to transport patrons to more distant downtown locations and strategically limited auto parking to encourage use of bus feeder systems.
UNION PASSENGER TERMINAL, NEW ORLEANS
A major alliance of firms and institutions -- with Billes/Manning Architects, New Orleans, as lead consultant -- currently is generating strategies to convert the New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (NOUPT) and its adjacent properties into a "world class" intermodal center for public transportation. One of the younger old-style union terminals now under consideration nationwide for restoration, the NOUPT was completed in 1954 to replace a 19th-century building.
The 53,600-sq.-ft. structure was the first major rail passenger building in the country to have air conditioning. Interior walls are adorned with more than 2,166 square feet of murals depicting 435 years of Louisiana history. Originally, the NOUPT consolidated nine trunk lines and replaced five widely scattered stations on its 86-acre site.
Today, the station remains a major Amtrak terminal, accommodating such well-known long-distance trains as the City of New Orleans (Chicago to New Orleans), the Southern Crescent (New York to New Orleans) and the Sunset Limited (Los Angeles to Miami) as well as Greyhound bus operations.
Other facilities on the site include the downtown New Orleans heliport, the Amtrak baggage building and the Greyhound Package Express building. Approximately one mile from the Mississippi River, the terminal is adjacent to the Superdome and the New Orleans Center, a large mixed-use commercial and retail development.
In addition to the long-distance train and bus services and helicopter transport, adjacent transportation systems include two interstate highways and three major arterials. Two airports, large port facilities and several river ferries -- not to mention New Orleans' world-famous streetcar system, are also close. Four transit agencies operate local bus services with nearby routes, and many pedestrian thoroughfares surround the terminal.
The architectural consulting team recommended interior and exterior improvements including a huge, translucent canopy over the tracks at the rear of the terminal to serve as a gateway to New Orleans. Later phases include new pedestrian concourses to bus and parking facilities as well as pedestrian and shuttle linkages to nearby facilities. The plan also proposes the development of a high-speed rail connection to New Orleans International Airport.
In addition, the team has proposed a variety of recommendations, such as extending Howard Avenue, a major local street, onto the NOUPT property; relocating the baggage handling building to be contiguous with the terminal; adding intra-city bus services and a transfer facility; and developing a Canal Street streetcar-line between the NOUPT and the riverfront, downtown and Superdome districts.
UNION STATION, LOS ANGELES
With its dazzling blend of California Mission and Art Deco architecture, Union Station is regarded by many natives as the most recognizable landmark in Los Angeles. Erected between 1937 and 1939, the $11-million project was funded by three railroad companies (Southern Pacific, Santa Fe and Union Pacific) that wished to "unify" their operations at a single location. During the height of the Great Depression, the emerging station became an anchor of economic hope, gaining its greatest notoriety during World War II when it became the site of a vast human drama as military personnel shipped out to and returned from the conflict.
Following a decline in patronage with the advent of the airline industry, activity at Union Station took an upswing in 1971 with the birth of Amtrak. Then, the ascendancy of the auto caused a major drop in rail travel that continued well into the 1980s.
In the late 1980s, Californians began to show their concern about air quality and congested roadways by approving a number of revenue plans to fund new public transportation systems. Recently introduced metro systems in and around Los Angeles include a subway (the Red Line) and a trolley (the Blue Line).
These short-haul services are being complemented by Metrolink. Opened to the public in November 1992, Metrolink became the first commuter rail system in southern California in 50 years.
"Metrolink will provide the thread that weaves together the various parts of downtown Los Angeles," says Nick Patsaouras, chairman of Gateway Board of Directors and MTA Board member. "With the development of the Union Station Gateway Intermodal Center as the transportation hub, Gateway will help revitalize the neglected north and east sections of the city and will act as a catalyst to connect the area's ethnic and historical sections."
With three routes now operating and several more under development, Metrolink will eventually comprise more than 400 miles of mainline, linking Los Angeles with its four adjoining counties. Owned by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), an alliance of the five counties, the system's development was greatly expedited by several deals SCRRA struck with freight railroad companies to purchase existing track.
Low-emission, climate-controlled Metrolink trains, representing the height of locomotive technology, now cruise into and out of the station during rush hours. Newly configured ramps and corridors conveniently connect Metrolink patrons to the electrified subway and trolley lines. Approximately 175,000 daily passengers now pass through the station, compared to a low of about 4,000 during the early 1980s.
In addition to increased Metrolink service, plans for the next 10 years include the extension of the Red Line and development of a Green Line that will provide a direct connection to Los Angeles County Airport. Also anticipated is joint development on the 50-acre station site, which will include erection of the 26-story Metropolitan Transit Authority building, letting of retail space and construction of a new indoor sports arena.
ENCOURAGING PUBLIC TRANSIT
Old rail stations offer a unique opportunity -- in some cases, the only opportunity -- to greatly improve the regional transportation system at reasonable cost.
Many similar facilities in cities and towns across the country have the potential to serve a new generation of passengers by linking rail, car, bus, light-rail and/or people-mover systems into "new" multimodal transportation systems.
One of the major goals of intermodal development is to encourage the use of public transit.
As cities and counties begin to plan and implement multimodal experiments of their own, transit centers like these are demonstrating approaches to public transportation that promise to offer sophisticated levels of flexibility, speed, convenience and comfort.