The Wilmington Amtrak station has been renovated and rededicated. It now bears the name of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who rode the rails an estimated 7,800 round trips during his 36 years in the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Biden and his family took part in Saturday’s ceremony, which marked the completion of a two-year modernization and refurbishment project that cost $37,000,000.
The Vice President noted that if it were not for the rails, an estimated seven more lanes would have to be constructed along Interstate 95 to handle the travel demand.
“This is so critical, such a critical artery to the commerce and the intercourse of this great country and, quite frankly, this city,” Mr. Biden said.
Travelers will notice a brighter, well-lit lobby, easier-to-read LED displays, enhancements to stairways and waiting platforms, and new accommodations for people with disabilities. A new energy efficient heating and cooling system was installed as well.
On the second floor, waiting rooms where men and women used to gather separately were refurbished with polished flooring and ornate ceilings.
Mr. Biden called the day a “sentimental journey” for his family, noting that he built many friendships with conductors and other railroad employees over the years. The station served as a kickoff location for some of his campaigns, and he and President Barack Obama rode the train from Philadelphia to Washington for the 2009 inauguration, stopping in Wilmington to greet a crowd of thousands of people.
The Vice President said he was not deserving of the honor, but others who spoke at the dedication disagreed.
“As one of our country’s leading public servants, our ‘Joe’ sustains a momentum for Delaware while helping steer our nation down the right track,” said Governor Jack Markell.
Families and rail enthusiasts also toured the renovated facility during an open house. The Wilmington station was built in 1907 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearly 697,000 Amtrak passengers used the station during fiscal year 2010, making it the 12th busiest in the Amtrak system. During that same time the station served more than 406,000 SEPTA regional rail travelers.