At 10 a.m. Friday is the grand opening of the city's new Transit Center located downtown at Eighth Street and Camino del Rio next to the post office. Consider yourself invited to come down and enjoy the opening ceremony.
You can join a walking procession leaving City Hall at 9:30 a.m., or a bicycle parade leaving at 9:30 a.m. from Buckley Park. Speeches, ribbon cutting and refreshments begin at 10 a.m. And oh yes, wear red ... any questions?
"Yes...What's a Transit Center, and why do we need one?"
Maybe it's best if I start at the beginning.
Soon after hairy caveperson invented the wheel, everyone had to have their own Flintstone-mobile. That's when traffic started to snarl and road rage set in. Now, fast-forward to the 2009 version of Durango.
First, consider the research. Population trend studies indicate we are, and will continue to, experience regional growth. (Translation: A lot more hairy people will live among us.) Second, for a lot of very positive reasons, use of public transit is, and will continue to increase. (Hint: Take the hint?) Last year, the Durango "T" carried 365,050 riders and is on pace to carry 430,000 this year.
Then there are issues of reality. We have been getting along with the "commuter-van-driver-drops-off-passengers-in-a-grocery-store-parking-lot" method of transit and transfer. Nice, but not convenient, safe or efficient. Also, consider the growing amount of commuting drivers, over-the-road bus passengers, walkers, bikers and local transit riders all circulating the downtown grid with no single point to converge or connect.
That's the key point - connectivity. A transit center serves as a single, centrally located facility that provides either an arrival point, a departure point or a transfer point for all modes of transportation, thus the proper name, Durango Regional Intermodal Transit Center.
Imagine a person walking or riding a bike into downtown to catch a bus out to his or her job at Mercy. Or, imagine riding a van into town from a city neighborhood, outlying community, the airport or a Greyhound or Durango Mountain Resort bus to catch the "T" home or to his or her job. The transit facility will provide interconnecting efficiency for cars and trucks, vans and buses, trikes and bikes, scooters and motorcycles, hybrids and electrics and maybe someday a commuter train.
Other benefits? The Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design-certified transit center will provide information services, public restrooms, generous bicycle parking, bus pass and parking permit sales, payment drop-off and house the transit offices and dispatch center. The city parking lot in which the transit center sits is also intended to be the future site of a structured parking garage that will further increase transit efficiencies.
What did it cost? State Senate Bill 1 awarded the city of Durango $4.4 million to construct the transit center and $700,000 to upgrade sidewalks adjacent to the center and those connecting the center to Main Avenue. The city of Durango provided the land that was valued at the required 20 percent value of the entire project. Good job everybody.
Kunkelra@cidurango.co.usBob Kunkel is special events and business coordinator for Durango's Central Business District.