DENVER (CBS4)- It's a project that's been in the works for years and finally the first phase of the renovation to Union Station as a transportation hub for the Denver metro area is being revealed.
Construction is complete on the first portion of the transit project for the Union Station Bus Concourse. The 22-gate underground bus concourse will open for service on May 11.
Union Station was built at 17th and Wynkoop in 1881. Now it is being transformed from a seemingly vacant at times building into a centralized and bustling centerpiece for all kinds of transportation including bus, light rail, commuter rail and Amtrak.
"This puts the whole metro system on the map in terms of having one system that is centrally located. We have the bus concourse, underground and rail system that is right next to it with eight tracks, eight different rail lines," said RTD spokesman Scott Reed. "The concourse here is very different than the Market Street Station where we only have 10. This is about two and a half times bigger than the old one."
The grand opening ceremony will include a ribbon cutting, panel discussion on public-private partnerships and a street fair. The celebration includes tours of the Union Station Bus Concourse and a sneak peak at the new Free MetroRide bus. There will also be booths, games, food trucks, live music, a beer garden and a special entertainment surprise at 3:30 p.m.
"For the people to be a part of not only the years and years of work that went into the master plan and the vision of what this would become but also for them to be with us here today so we invite everybody to come out," said RTD spokeswoman Pauletta Tonilas. "The festival will be going on until 6 p.m. There are a lot of things for families to do and for the adults in the beer garden."
The renovations to Union Station cost about $480 million. Funding for the project came from several different sources.
"We were able to pool some funds from resources that had never been pulled together in one project including some railroad infrastructure funding and then some TIFFIA loans that we were able to get at a really good rate that allowed us to move forward with the project," said Reed.
That's good news for commuters who can enjoy the new space and expanded services without having to pay more.
"We won't have to raise bus rates for this. We think the structure is pretty unique from a financing point and the structure itself from an infrastructure standpoint," said Reed.
The Crawford Hotel along with restaurants and other retail will open at Union Station in July.
Union Station's redesign was planned with commuters and pedestrians in mind.
The intent is to grow to meet the demands of the population as Denver continues to grow. Developers hope the design will have a positive impact on transportation for the region for the next 100 years.
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