AL: Here are 5 things to know about Huntsville’s new transit center

April 24, 2024
The $14.6 million facility will open this summer and serve 11 routes.

The city of Huntsville is finishing up construction of its new public transit center at the intersection of Pratt Avenue and Church Street downtown.

It is north of the current station. Here are five things to know about the new station.

1. It will open this summer

City of Huntsville Facilities Project Manager Chris O’Neil said construction is expected to wrap up in mid-May.

“We think that we will be able to move over here sometime in June,” added Quisha Bryant, the city’s parking and public transportation director. “We probably won’t cut the ribbon on it until sometime in July. We just want to make sure everything is running smoothly and operating properly before we give it that final big push.”

2. It will serve 11 routes

“Right now, we have 11,” Public Transportation Manager John Autry said. “We’re going to add two more, one this summer and a new route to the airport-Greenbrier area a year from now.”

Autry said he doesn’t see the city adding more than 14 out of the station over the next 15 years.

“Now, we will add buses to existing routes, but they will pull in at different times,” he said. “As far as the number of buses here at the same time, I think 14 gives us plenty of room to expand.”

Autry said Huntsville Transit currently has about 3,000 riders a day. That includes riders with its paratransit service.

Bryant said Huntsville Transit will hold public meetings similar to the meetings it held last year before new routes will be added. She said Huntsville Transit is also moving toward offering Sunday service.

“That is one of the reasons we’re doing that hiring push right now,” she said.

3. It is a bigger center than the current facility

“Riders can expect plenty of room to get from bus to bus,” Autry said. “Right now, our current facility is overcrowded. We have passengers having to walk out onto Cleveland to catch route 2 and 4. Here, we don’t just have more bus bays, we’ve also got 45-foot bays, where the other station is designed for 30-foot bays. It will help the current situation with passengers, but it also gives us room to expand over the next 15 years.”

“One of the things we’re to do is add additional routes in the future and also increase our capacity,” Bryant added. “The additional bays will allow us to have more buses come in when it’s time for our riders to catch the bus.”

4. It has a ‘massive’ steel design, rain garden

“The steel portion of this project is massive,” said Erik Kallas of Consolidated Construction, the station’s general contractor. “You can see the large steel canopies, and then we have a 70-foot steel tower that has the signage for the Huntsville Transit Authority on there, and we have a beautiful lobby where the ticketing office is.”

O’Neil said the city wanted to come up with something “kind of different when people are sitting here waiting for a bus.”

“We wanted to build something recognizable and iconic being here at the intersection of Pratt and Church Street,” he said.

The drivers have a break room and a wellness center, O’Neil said.

One of the things Autry said he loves about the new transit center is that “we’re creating a park atmosphere with a beautiful rain garden down the middle.”

“This becomes a sense of place,” he said. “A lot of our riders - seniors – they ride the bus to the transit station to see their friends in other parts of the city and chat with them before they do what they do for the rest of the day.”

Kallas said the center was “going to be a marriage of both design and function.”

“Fuqua and Partners was our design architect,” he said. “Chad Bostick with Bostick Landscaping Architecture did all of the landscaping design. We feel it’s going to be an icon for the city of Huntsville and the community to enjoy for many years to come.”

5. It is costing $14.6 million to construct

Kallas said construction has taken a little more than a year. Funding was made possible for the 3,800-square foot facility through a $12.5 million grant from the Federal Transit Authority, with the city paying the remainder of the cost.

“This is a great example of what we can accomplish through strong collaboration with our federal partners,” Mayor Tommy Battle said when the construction contract was approved in September 2022. “This new transfer station will take our public transportation efforts to the next level and emphasize our commitment to not only growing Huntsville Transit, but also improving operations.”

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Scott Turner reports for the Huntsville Times Lede.

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