Jul 24, 2012 at 9:14 am
ST. CLOUD, MN (KNSI) – It is coming a little behind schedule but starting Monday St. Cloud bus riders will get to take in Metro Bus's newly renovated downtown Transit Center.
The complete overhaul of the 20-year-old facility at 1st Street South and 5th Avenue South took nearly a year to complete and had been expected to be completed earlier this month.
"We've actually had pretty good weather this summer," Metro Bus operations director Tony Kellen said. "But with all of the things we've had going on down at the transit center it just took a little bit longer to get things finished and we thought rather than rush the opening we wanted to make sure things are clean and tidy and ready to go."
In addition to new sidewalks, landscaping and amenities like restrooms, Kellen says there were some practical reasons why the project needed to be done.
"The outside work, which we've been doing this summer, is just to replace all of the concrete work, primarily because we have very heavy equipment coming in and out of there," Kellen said. "More than that, our passenger islands when they were built prior to ADA didn't have tactile edges. So we've widened the aisle and added tactile edges."
Now, those in wheelchairs or with visual impairments will have a much easier time navigating the center. Along with those improvements to access, came additional space that will be put to good use.
"We have the Sartell route coming out of there that wasn't there before," Kellen said. "Plans for the future could involve a couple of more routes as well, coming downtown."
There will be some changes riders will see at the new station that Metro Bus is still finalizing when it comes to where buses will be located. But Kellen said extra supervisors will be on hand in the early days following the opening to be sure people stay informed of how things operate at the new location.
Plans for the renovation came after a transportation study by Metro Bus that determined the current location of the center is the place to be.
"We are just really trying to position the transit center as a part of downtown, which is a very busy place," Kellen said. "Also looking at everything else that is going on on 5th avenue live, and there is a lot of investment going in downtown and it just made sense to be a part of that."
The total cost of the project came to around $1.1 million dollars, including $370,000 dollars to purchase the former Northwestern Mutual Life building, demolished to provide room for expansion.