BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The Twin Cities’ public transportation system is getting a major upgrade; Connect Transit announced Tuesday night the location of its new transfer center.
Connect Transit’s Board of Directors voted unanimously Tuesday. Feb. 23, to give new life to the former Pantagraph newspaper building at Washington and Madison, just west of the downtown square.
Chairman of the Board Ryan Whitehouse said this location was chosen over two others because it provides room for expansion and is still conveniently located for bus riders.
“For me, it’s keeping an older building and revitalizing that in the downtown area,” Whitehouse said. “Generally it’s cheaper to refurbish than to totally rebuild.”
Connect Transit still has to acquire the building from its’ current owner, but Bloomington city officials agree, the Pantagraph building is the best fit.
Tim Gleason said the building is right near bars, restaurants and other attractions that could potentially bring in new businesses.
“It’s just a couple blocks north to our arena, it’s just directly across the street, a touch on the outside of the buckle of our downtown and it just brings so many people potentially into our downtown,” Gleason said. “I’m confident further development will occur as a result of this.”
Currently, the bus transfer station sits on Front Street in front of the McLean County Law and Justice Center in Bloomington. Whitehouse describes it as “not much of a transfer center” and said itsunsafe because it requires bus riders to cross a busy intersection in order to board other buses.
Whitehouse there are also no bathrooms or a place to escape the elements, but the new center will eliminate those concerns.
“It meets the safety of our riders which is of top importance to us,” Whitehouse said. “I think that’s the main reason we need a downtown transfer station.”
The new transfer center is also being paid for by federal and state grants meaning no local funding will be used for the $20 million project.