Colorado Springs city officials finally agree on, announce plans for new downtown transit center
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- After 20 years of stalled progress, the city announced this week that the long-considered project to build a new downtown transit center will happen.
Officials confirmed that the project will be in a half-square-block area, currently a parking lot, just north of the main post office -- bordered by Pikes Peak and Nevada avenues and Weber Street.
That area is just a block south of the existing transit center that opened in 1976.
Just a month ago, KRDO NewsChannel 13 reported that there seemed to be no progress on the project, and that the city was still trying to acquire a vacant property just north of the Olympic Museum as the center's preferred location.
Officials had not talked publicly about the project for quite some time.
However, KRDO has learned that during our January report, officials were discussing the new location with Norwood, a local developer who owns the property.
Officials have confirmed that Norwood will allow the city to build the transit center there, potentially saving millions of dollars in land acquisition costs; in return, Norwood will be allowed to further develop the site.
The project will be a three-story structure, with the transit center on the ground floor, a parking garage in the middle and an upper section that could include a hotel, restaurants and offices.
Officials said that the project is now "on a fast track" to be completed by 2027, although construction won't start for a few years.
The project is a three-way partnership involving Norwood, Mountain Metro Transit and the city's Parking Enterprise.
"This site was on a list previously and resurfaced as an opportunity that works very well," said Scott Lee, parking director. "It's a genesis of where all three partners can put their projects together on a single site and enhance each other's usage."
Lee said that planners studied recent similar facilities in Idaho, Michigan, New York and at Union Station in Denver.
"This kind of multi-use facility is what works best for cities now," he said.
The cost of the project has yet to be determined until details are finalized, but officials say that some federal funding is available for transit projects.
The preferred location was closer to the railroad tracks to allow for easy integration into future commuter rail projects, but officials said that project can no longer be delayed for modern traffic needs that need to be met now.
"We don't know if or when high-speed rail or light rail is going to happen," Lee said. "If it does, we can connect to it by using shuttle buses. A station still would have to be built along the tracks."
The new center would incorporate scooters, buses, shuttles and possibly ride-sharing services such as Uber, along with the Bustang service to Denver and Greyhound cross-country buses.
Karl Carlson, a homeless man who rides the bus regularly, is excited about the new transit center.
"It gets cold out here sometimes, waiting for a bus," he said. "This is going to be a great convenience. You can sit in a comfortable place and get a cup of coffee while you wait for your bus. It's a growing city and we need this."