A downtown Raleigh transportation hub is nearly ready to host its first passenger trains.
The city officially dedicated Union Station in a ceremony Monday morning. The $89 million project will eventually handle commuter and passenger rail as well as buses and taxis on the west end of downtown.
The city council first proposed the combined train and bus station soon after the Great Recession. Some of its funding comes from the 2009 stimulus package.
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said the project is designed to improve public transit by connecting different forms of transportation.
"In the very early stages, one of the great visions for this facility was to create an entryway into downtown, and in a sense, that is what we have created: a front door to the city," McFarlane said.
The state's Chief Deputy Transportation Secretary David Howard said Union Station will also support Raleigh's growth.
"As demographics in our state change and our population continues to grow, demand for rail travel and freight movement is also increasing, particularly in large urban areas like Raleigh. Working together, North Carolinians must meet the growing demand head-on," he said.
Union Station will start running a roundtrip train between Raleigh and Charlotte in June. The city is still working out details of bus service.