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Construction has begun on a new passenger-rail station in downtown Raleigh, N.C., the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) announced late last week. NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata joined North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane at a groundbreaking event May 8 for what will be the new Raleigh Union Station.Slated to open in 2017, the $79.8 million facility will replace the existing Cabarrus Street Amtrak Station, which is often overcrowded, NCDOT officials said. It also lacks the adequate platform size for longer trains."Investing in rail improvements like this plays an important role in attracting new opportunities for our communities and ensuring our state’s long-term success, and NCDOT remains committed to working with our partners to make this project a reality," Tata said in a prepared statement.Raleigh Union Station is a joint venture between NCDOT's Rail Division and the city of Raleigh, with assistance from Go Triangle, a partnership of various public transportation agencies in the region.Raleigh received two Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants worth a total $38 million for the project. Raleigh also will contribute $18 million to $19 million for the project, while NCDOT has provided $9 million in state matching funds. NCDOT also has facilitated the redirection of $15 million in federal stimulus funds, state officials said.