Bus center may use downtown parking lots

City may consider building parking garage to make up for lost lots

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2002

A new downtown transit center could sit behind Centennial Hall or in the parking lot across from Merchants Wharf, according to preliminary designs.

City planners met with about 20 Juneau residents Tuesday to get input on where to put the Capital Transit bus center, what it might look like and whether route changes might be needed. The top two sites are the parking lot behind Centennial Hall and the lot at the corner of Main Street and Egan Drive, across the street from Merchants Wharf, city consultant Dennis Haskell said.

The top picks come from a list of about 20. Some of the sites were outside of the city's price range, while others didn't meet the city's needs, Haskell said.

"Both sites are on parking lots. The opportunity for open land in downtown Juneau is virtually nonexistent," he said. "Parking would be displaced on the lots, but parking needs to be looked at as a city-wide problem."

After a site is selected and the design comes together, the city will have a better idea of how many parking spaces might be lost, city project manager Alicja Gorska said. Eventually, the city could build a two-story parking facility in the Centennial Hall area that might include a transit center, Haskell said.

The transit center would include a waiting area, space for four buses, a shelter, tickets, benches, bicycle racks, a driver break room and storage. Rest rooms, a police substation, a concession or coffee stand, telephones, art, a clock and community bulletin board also may be part of the design. Whether the waiting area should be heated hasn't been determined, Haskell said.

Capital Transit drivers now use the cruise ship terminal near the Mount Roberts Tramway terminal as a rest stop and layover point downtown. The Federal Building is a rider transfer point. Planners are discussing whether the new transit center should be the transfer point and if a downtown shuttle route should be added.

"The final routing depends on the location," Haskell said. "We may mix and match these ideas."

People at Tuesday's meeting had mixed opinions about which of the two sites was better. Joyce Levine said the site at Main and Egan was more central, but didn't have room for growth.

"That's what I get stuck on - as the system grows," she said. "I like the idea of room for growth at Centennial Hall."

Dixie Hood said she liked the Main Street and Egan Drive site because it was close to the center of downtown. The structure should be enclosed and heated, she said. Rest rooms also got high marks from those at the meeting.

The work is part of a 1996 transit development plan that calls for transit centers downtown and in the Mendenhall Valley, said Capital Transit Manager John Kern. The city expects the downtown transit center will cost about $1.9 million, with funding from the Federal Transit Administration, he said.

The city also will update the transit development plan this year, Kern said.

A second public workshop on the transit center is tentatively scheduled for May 21. Comments can be sent to Alicja_Gorska@ci.juneau.ak.us or to the city Engineering Department, 155 S. Seward St., Juneau, AK 99801.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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