It's been more than 40 years since St. Paul's Union Depot has been fully open to the public, but on Saturday the doors will swing open again.
A celebration to mark the completion of the $243 million restoration of the landmark station that in its heyday of the 1920s saw 300 trains and 20,000 passengers a day will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The first of three family movie nights will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. with a screening of "Elf."
With the theme "Union Depot: Explore. Experience. Embark. The Journey Begins Again," elected officials and representatives from the Ramsey County Regional Railway Authority will give remarks to kick off the day of festivities that includes theatrical performances, historical reenactments, music, dancing, artists and information on transportation services that will be offered. The events will officially open St. Paul's new transit hub.
Metro Transit will have a big presence at Union Depot with an average of 300 daily arrivals and departures on weekdays. Service will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday. Metro Transit will offer free rides to Union Depot on Route 21 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
In early 2013 Jefferson Regional Bus Lines will begin service at the depot at 214 E. 4th Street in Lowertown. A full-service bicycle shop will also open next year and Amtrak will relocate its operations from its current location in the Midway area.
Union Depot also will serve as a stop on the new Central Corridor Light Rail Green Line that will begin operating in 2014.
"By bringing together services including bus service, bicycles, and taxis, and eventually Amtrak, light rail, intercity bus service, commuter rail and high-speed rail to Chicago, Union Depot is opening its doors to a new generation of retail opportunities, events and arts and culture for the public to enjoy," said a statement on the depot's new web site, www.uniondepot.org.