A celebration yesterday marked the kickoff of construction on the new Amtrak Cascades station at Tacoma’s Freighthouse Square, with several local notables coming out for the occasion.

Among those were Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, acting state Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar and WSDOT Rail, Freight and Ports Division Director Ron Pate, who lauded the start of construction as a sign of good things to come.

“This is an important milestone for Washington’s high speed rail program and the city of Tacoma,” said Pate. “This station helps improve passenger train travel throughout the Amtrak Cascades corridor and we’re pleased to celebrate with community and state officials.”

The 100,000-square-foot station, showcased on banners displaying renderings of the finished product, will replace an extant part of Freighthouse Square. After negative feedback on the station’s original designs, a new design was approved after consultation with city officials as well as a citizen advisory committee.

The new design retains many architectural qualities and character of the current Freighthouse Square building, adding large glass windows, wooden columns, terrazzo flooring and vertical lift doors to create a flowing, unified indoor/outdoor space.

When the station opens fall next year, it will serve six daily roundtrip Amtrak Cascades trains and Amtrak’s Coast Starlight long-distance service.