A long-awaited plan for a new downtown transit hub — complete with a nearly $24 million price tag — was unveiled Wednesday by Toledo and TARTA officials.
“It makes an iconic statement about the elegance of the city and the region,” Dave Dysard, Toledo’s engineering services administrator of public service, said while showing Toledo councilmen artist renderings of the complex that could be built on a parking lot at Jackson Boulevard.
The city and TARTA each paid $100,000 for a feasibility study, which recommends having all bus routes going in and out of downtown use a centralized location along Jackson between Superior and Huron streets.
The new hub would eliminate the existing downtown bus loop. All buses bound for downtown still would stop at the current downtown stations, but would end their routes at the new hub, which would include covered parking and walkways, a lobby and visitor center complete with restrooms, a bike station, a rain garden, and central event space.
Mr. Dysard said 80 percent of the $23.91 million cost could be paid for with federal grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. He said cities compete for federal funding for such facilities. The city and TARTA could pay the rest of the cost. No funding decisions have been made.
The single bus terminal plan for downtown was first unveiled in November, 2010, by TARTA to the Downtown Toledo Improvement District Inc.
The proposal involves converting what is now the westbound side of Jackson between Summit and Erie streets to two-way traffic and its boulevard median and eastbound lanes into a parklike setting, with the bus terminal occupying part of the block between Superior and Huron streets.
The plan’s modifications to Jackson would eliminate three blocks of on-street metered parking on what is now the westbound side, plus a block of restricted parking on the eastbound side between Erie and Huron that was created for the Toledo Police Department several years ago.
But eliminating the bus loop could allow the restoration of on-street parking elsewhere downtown.
New, angled parking also would be created in a new area parallel to Jackson between North Superior and Summit streets.
Robin Whitney, the city’s commissioner of engineering services, said one of the hurdles for the project is buying the parking lot and the existing building at 502 Adams St., which is vacant except for a Subway restaurant. It would be incorporated into the project as part of the waiting area with administrative offices above for TARTA.
Councilman Rob Ludeman noted it would be easier for police to monitor congregations of high school students at the one central location rather than the current locations where TARTA buses stop and wait before heading outbound.
Councilman George Sarantou blasted TARTA for being slow to address public nuisances and safety concerns at its depot on the southeast corner of Erie Street and Madison Avenue.
He read an email from Matthew Lewandowski, principal at Lewandowski Engineers, 234 N Erie St., that complained of TARTA customers urinating, defecating, and engaging in sexual acts in the business’ doorway.
Jori Jex, general manager of the Valentine Theatre, said she was not kept informed on the proposed hub and is concerned about losing the parking lot across the street and replacing it with on-street, metered parking.
Suzanne Rorick, executive director of the Toledo Opera, which performs at the Valentine, said many patrons would not feel comfortable using either the Superior Street Garage or the Vistula Garage, near Cherry and Summit streets. Both were suggested parking locations to make up for the loss of the parking lot spaces.
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