Crews break ground on Raleigh's new Union Station

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Progress is being made to ease overcrowding at a local train station which will also play a role in the future of transportation in the Triangle.

On Friday, federal, state, and local officials broke ground on the Raleigh's new Union Station.

Officials say the train station will be totally transformed by 2017.

The first phase of the project will improve the railway from Raleigh to Charlotte.

Raleigh's Mayor Nancy MacFarlane said that's the first piece in attracting more business here.

"As Raleigh and North Carolina both grow in population and industry, we must have strong transportation systems to support that growth and connect regions that will in turn continue to attract business development, new residents, and tourism," said MacFarlane.

The new Union Station will replace the existing Amtrak station. In its place will be a modern design with a public plaza, and retail space with restaurants and shops.

"I anticipate this area now with this new Raleigh Union Station to have vibrant new activity," said Gov. Pat McCrory. "I guarantee right now the real estate prices are going to start going up, you'll get more property tax money, the city council, and you're going to start having much more vibrant pedestrian, friendly activity in and around the train station."

The price tag on all this equals $80 million.

The city of Raleigh will contribute $18-$19 million, the state will contribute $9 million, and the Feds are investing $53 million.

"Transportation and transit is costly," said MacFarlane, "however, investments in transportation have the ability to net a high return."

The next phase of the city and state's transportation plan will be to add a light rail.

That station would be two blocks away as part of the Triangle Transit plan.

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