MAN THE MOPS and head for the dining car--Union Station is about to rise from the rain- soaked dead and function as it did so beautifully in prouder years as an attractive train terminal. In an extraordinary burst of last-minute good sense, Congress and the administration have agreed to decree a long-overdue end to what has been an incredible downpouring of federal dollars to create--and then to neglect--the world's largest domed barbecue pit with visitor cellar.

Like the desecration of this building, the rescue has been a bipartisan effort. Instead of continuing to vote against every Union Station proposal merely because some voters back home might not understand the stakes, enough legislators realized the true financial waste involved in doing nothing to spell r-e-l-i-e-f: taxpayers are forking out $3.5 million a year for a lease on that site, no matter how it is used, abused or shut down. But now, plans call for the Department of Transportation to assume exclusive jurisdiction over the site and for serious studies with real deadlines that are to produce blueprints and a train station that passengers will be able to find without wading for untold nautical miles through the ponds of rainwater and debris. To be explored, agreed upon and built are various creative, commercially attractive spaces in and around the station that should--here's a switch--yield instead of squander revenues.

Someday when everybody has a free decade or two, it might be useful, in a cautionary way, to examine the lessons to be learned from the tragicomedy of errors that succeeded for so long in making a silk purse into a sow's ear.