October 31, 2012

Amtrak partners with Baltimore to upgrade station

Amtrak has given Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and Visit Baltimore permission to proceed with plans to install new landscaping and a video welcome sign on the track level of Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Station.

The project will have four components: a large “Baltimore” sign; a cutting-edge screen to show promotional videos about Baltimore; new landscaping for the hill on the north side of the tracks; and attractive new fencing at the top of the hill. Much of the design has been done and fabrication of the signage and video screen base are set to begin. Installation of the project is expected to be completed in 2013.

The project is being funded jointly by Downtown Partnership and Visit Baltimore. Other partners include Amtrak, the Central Baltimore Partnership and the Charles Street Development Corp. The contractors are Mahan Rykiel (landscape architects); Gutierrez Studios (design concept and fabrication of the sign and video mount); EBA engineering, and NV3 (video consultation) in conjunction with Incite LED Media Group/QSTech.

“Penn Station is a major gateway and the all-important first impression of our city for tens of thousands of passengers each year,” said Kirby Fowler, President of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. “We looked at the overall quality of that experience and felt this is something we can do in the near term to improve it.”

“When train passengers look up as they arrive at our station, they currently see a barren hill. We saw an opportunity to improve that experience by welcoming travelers and creating video signage that will convey positive news and images about Baltimore,” said Tom Noonan, President and CEO of Visit Baltimore. “There is no overstating the value of that first impression as travelers pull into the station.”

“The public-private initiative led by Downtown Partnership and Visit Baltimore is a creative and welcome way to enhance Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Station as my administration pursues longer-term capital improvements with Amtrak and our Federal representatives in Congress,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

“Baltimore is an important city along the Northeast Corridor and we are pleased to work with our local partners to make this attractive improvement possible for visiting passengers,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.

Baltimore Penn Station is the eighth busiest station in the Amtrak national network and growing. In the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, more than one million passengers travelled through the station, which represents an increase of 7.9% over the prior year.

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