February 23, 2007

TCAT Plans to Renovate Downtown Bus Stop

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TCAT passengers who use the bus shelter located on the corner of West Seneca and North Tioga Streets will find themselves much warmer next year.

As part of a project to remodel the entire block, on March 12, TCAT will begin renovating the downtown bus station. The changes are expected to cost about $950,000.

According to Sue Willcox, TCAT purchasing and projects manager, the new shelter will be larger than the existing one, be enclosed by glass, have a new lighting system and be more handicap accessible. It will give passengers information about the location of buses on the routes stopping on Seneca Street.

TCAT officials also plan to implement improvements to help riders navigate the downtown bus system, including the partitioning of three different waiting areas equipped with gates that indicate which bus line stops in each area.

Nancy Oltz, TCAT operations and maintenance manager, said the overhaul of the block is intended to update the look of Seneca Street so that it matches the renovations going on throughout Ithaca.

The renovations along this part of Seneca Street are part of TCAT’s city wide “City Center Project,” a larger project to improve the four bus shelters and adjacent streets in the City of Ithaca. According to Ithaca City Planner Lisa Nicholas, TCAT has been working for over three years to have the project approved.

“The design planned went through site plan review with the Ithaca City planning department a few months ago to determine whether the design is compatible with adjacent land uses and overall community character,” Nicholas said.

The project is scheduled to be finished by the end of July, and during construction the street will remain open to pedestrians and automobiles. The bus stop, however, will be relocated to the corner of State and Cayuga streets. Within the next three years, work will begin to similarly renovate the other three downtown bus stops. The timing for the planning and implementation of these projects will depend on future funding.

According to Jeff Liberson, communications representative of Congressman Maurice Hinchey’s (D-NY) office, part of the funding for this project came from the City of Ithaca, as well as allocations totaling $446,000 from Hinchey. Hinchey serves on the House appropriations committee, which is responsible for allocating money for projects like this all over the nation. Hinchey is also responsible for over $700,000 worth of funding that will be used to acquire six hybrid buses for the TCAT fleet.

The “City Center Project” has been in the works for over five years and is being developed by Bergmann Associates and designed by the landscape architecture firm, Northeast Greenway. The design of Seneca Street and subsequent renovations of the other three bus shelters will include many of the same themes ass the Cayuga Waterfront trail, also designed by Northeast Greenway.