State transit plan means bus facility for Danville

State transit plan means bus facility for Danville

DANVILLE — Danville Mass Transit could have a new $3 million bus transfer facility in downtown Danville by the end of 2014 along with six new buses on various routes.

The $12.6 billion, six-year statewide transportation plan unveiled by Gov. Pat Quinn last week earmarks more than $4 million for Danville Mass Transit for construction of a main bus transfer zone facility at Hazel and North streets and the purchase of six new buses, according to John Metzinger, director of DMT.

The new bus transfer zone facility has been in the works for several years as the design and engineering phases are complete, but construction had not moved forward because DMT did not have money for the final phase.

Currently, riders waiting for buses at Danville's main transfer zone on North Street in downtown have little shelter from the weather, and no amenities, such as public rest rooms or bus-arrival indicators.

The planned $3 million facility would include an enclosed building with rest rooms and a covered concrete island where several city buses could be loading and unloading simultaneously in bays designated by route.

The current transfer zone has some small glass shelters but they can't accommodate all riders, and the area does not have designated areas for buses and routes, so riders don't know exactly where in the transfer zone their bus will load. Buses line up single-file, and Metzinger said riders have to walk up and down the row looking for their bus.

"It will just be a great improvement for our mass transit," said Metzinger, adding that the building will be heated, allowing riders to get out of the cold or inclement weather.

The state's plan is to provide DMT with $2.9 million toward the transfer zone construction and another $1.2 million toward six new buses. Metzinger said DMT will use some of its directly-appropriated federal dollars to make up the small difference in the construction project, which he hopes to bid later this year, break ground in early 2014 and complete later that year.

DMT will purchase two 35-foot, low-floor, 30-passenger buses and four medium-duty buses that seat 22 passengers. He said the low-floor buses better accommodate wheelchairs, because a ramp extends from the bus floor to the curb rather than using a lift like some of the city's older buses. Metzinger said the smaller buses will be used on the longer out-of-city routes between Danville and Georgetown and Danville and Champaign-Urbana. He said DMT definitely needs to replace some of its older buses. Plus, he said, the new buses will help DMT add another route serving the north end of the city where new retail development is creating more demand not only for those wanting to shop but for those going to work at the new stores, including Kohl's and Ross Dress for Less at the Village Mall.

He said that area of the city is served by two buses per hour, and a third will be added. However, it will likely be at least a year before DMT receives the new buses, Metzinger said, because it takes about 18 months to get a new bus once the order has been placed with a manufacturer.

He said DMT was informed last fall of the state's plans for transportation and was asked to submit projects for possible funding. He said DMT is happy that both of the projects submitted were included.

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