For years, Indianapolis has suffered from the lack of a central gathering site for all of it’s routes which travel through the downtown area. Currently, all routes make a loop through downtown, informally known as the corral, where the sidewalks act as defacto transit centers.
The stops are difficult to figure out and transfers can be troublesome based upon where one needs to get off a bus and catch another. Additionally, pedestrian mobility is reduced due to the large amount of people who wait on the sidewalks. Prior studies have singled out the Post Office on South Street as a potential transit center. The 2010 IndyGo COA advocated for a location other than South Street. Furthermore, the COA advised that bundling the transit center with a commercial or mixed use structure would add even more benefit. I wrote about the COA’s transit center analysis last year.
So, it was a relief when the IBJ reported earlier this year, that a new site had been selected for the future transit center. Although the article (which requires subscription to read) points out that the site selection is not finalized, it indicated that a consensus seems to be forming around a surface parking lot south and across Washington Street from the City County building.
Last week, IndyGo opened bidding for the design of the downtown transit center and in a 14 page report (click here to open .pdf), indicates that the lot called for in the IBJ article is indeed the preferred site for the center. The report takes a long view of transit planning in soliciting the transit center’s design. The Indy Connect plan is held up as one of the guiding principals for bus routing which will be modified to compliment the new transit center. Additionally, the Central Corridors BRT are included in the document and asks how those buses would interface the transit center. Funding is pegged at $16.5 million with the majority coming from a Federal Congressional earmark. The current boarding area at Ohio Street is one of the primary points to be addressed with the new center as that waiting area will likely disappear. The last bullet also gives a nod to area redevelopment and singles out the former Market Square site as a potential benefactor of a new transit center at this location.
Design is addressed in a number of slides too. Similar structures in other cities are held up as architectural models of successful transit centers. Indeed, the last page has a rendering of the area created by Eden Collaborative which paints the picture of an iconic structure which interfaces with the southern plaza of the city county building. If such a structure could be realized at this location, it would surely receive high praise locally and nationally as an architectural success.
The bidding process is scheduled to wrap up by December 10th at which point design seems likely to move forward. It is important to note that the designs laid out in the report are only guidelines and the contractor chosen will work to create the final design that will be built. In an email, IndyGo President and CEO Mike Terry said,
“The conceptual design provided in the presentation material is not the final design, but used to illustrate the opportunity to think differently about the use and location for this transit facility and how it can be a positive influence on the development of that part of the city including public/green space, mixed use development adjacent and improved mobility.”
Urban Indy is excited to see this facility finally moving towards fruition. We have debated local transit improvements at length and whether or not dedicated transit funding is granted by state legislative action in the coming session, it appears that this transit center will move forward with funding already dedicated to it’s design & construction.