IL: Connect Transit transfer station in downtown Bloomington approaching design phase

April 18, 2024
Connect Transit and the city of Bloomington are evaluating potential developers for a downtown public transit transfer station at the site of the 50-year-old West Market Street parking deck.

Apr. 15—BLOOMINGTON — Connect Transit and the city of Bloomington are evaluating potential developers for a downtown public transit transfer station at the site of the 50-year-old West Market Street parking deck.

Once an applicant is selected and authorized by the Illinois Department of Transportation and a land use agreement for the city-owned property is finalized, the design phase of the project can begin.

David Braun, general manager for Connect Transit, provided an update on the project during a nonvoting work session of the City Council on Monday.

Braun said his agency issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) in February and received six proposals. The hope is to bring a recommendation to the Connect Transit Board of Trustees at its May 28 meeting.

"Because it's an RFQ, we won't have prices," Braun said. "We'll have to negotiate with the most responsible proposer in terms of qualifications."

However, Bloomington City Manager Tim Gleason said the current priority is drafting a land purchase agreement that can be brought to the City Council for consideration.

A year ago, the Bloomington City Council adopted a resolution that established the parking deck as the site of the transfer station. However, this did not stipulate whether the property would be sold or leased to Connect Transit.

Gleason said a new location for downtown's post office, which is in the southeast corner of the parking deck, also is part of these conversations.

"We're hoping that we can hand (the post office) off and have a permanent location definitely in the downtown," Gleason said. "We're confident that that's going to remain, but it would be nice if it was a return to this site as well."

Braun said some of the amenities Connect Transit wants include an indoor waiting area with public restrooms open during hours of operation and 10 covered bus bays.

"We're building some leasable space and the leasable space is so that we can actually get some revenue from this property that we can put into the transit system to offset the burden for the city, the state and the federal government," Braun said.

However, the aesthetic of the new station will have to match the look of downtown Bloomington.

"It can't look like a modern building in a historic downtown, and we're looking to make sure that happens," Braun said. "One of the ways that we're going to do that though is really to model the outreach effort to the streetscape project."

The City Council earlier this month agreed to move forward with the first of at least 10 phases for improving infrastructure, access and the appearance of the downtown.

When asked by Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe whether the station would be utilized by other companies, Braun said there have been internal communications about involving an over-the-road bus carrier.

As the design phase begins, Braun said Connect Transit will approach a bus carrier about the scope of the facility and the available space.

"Having that tie into our transit center would be fantastic, not only for our riders, but also people who just want to come downtown and visit," Braun said.

Currently, Peoria Charter, Greyhound, Burlington Trailways and Connect Transit use the bus bays at Uptown Station in Normal.

Once the design phase for the Bloomington transit center is halfway finished, demolition procedures can be discussed, Braun said. However, this could be determined by the amount of time it takes for the post office to relocate.

"We heard in initial conversation that they may need until the end of the year to move from their current location so we would start demolition after that," Braun said.

Contact Drew Zimmerman at 309-820-3276. Follow Drew on Twitter: @DZimmermanLee


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