Potential sites for the Downtown Transit Center (Map via Lojic)
Potential sites for the Downtown Transit Center (Map via Lojic)
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Potential sites for the Downtown Transit Center (Map via Lojic)
Potential sites for the Downtown Transit Center. (via Lojic)

Proposals for a planned multimodal transportation center in Downtown Louisville have been submitted to the city from various architects and a final selection will be made in late January with the project going to bid in late April or May. The station is envisioned to be a hub for a major bus line, have space for taxis and rental cars & bikes, offer secure bicycle storage for commuters and casual riders, offer cycling facilities such as showers, lockers, & repair shop, and include retail space for a potential coffee shop or other use.

The project was put on hold in 2009 and $1.8 million in stimulus funding diverted, but the plans have been revived and will be funded through Federal transportation funds disbursed through KIPDA. Chris Poynter with Mayor Abramson’s office says it’s less important where the money comes from than the fact that the transit center will be funded.

Metro Louisville intends the facility to promote the use of alternative transportation and an aggressive timetable has been established to get the project moving. A request for proposals was issued in late December and results are now being reviewed. A shortlist of firms will be issues today and a final selection made on January 22nd.  After that, the chosen firm must have design documents ready for bid and construction by April 30.

Although other sites may be considered as well, currently, four sites for the center have been proposed on city owned land Downtown (indicated on map above):

  • 117 South Seventh Street (Wind chimes / ground level of parking garage)
  • Surface parking lot at Market & Sixth Streets
  • Corner of Jefferson & Fourth Streets at public plaza
  • Corner of Muhammad Ali & Fifth Streets at Founders Square

Uncharacteristic to many RFPs, the transit station request asks the selected firm to generate a business plan to “identify products and services, management structure, equipment needs, and operations of the” Intermodal Transit Center (ITC). This includes determining what features will be offered at the center and a detailed financial plan for operation.

The project is no small affair. Mayor Abramson described the facility as much more than a bike station, instead offering many different alternative transportation options making it a “true transit center.” The Intermodal Transit Center is expected to serve as an anchor for sustainable transport and offer a highly attractive and visible solution for getting around without a car.

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Branden Klayko

8 COMMENTS

  1. The Founders Square site has been contracted to the Cordish Co. as a part of their Center City/Louisville Gardens project.

  2. Losing green space Downtown is a REALLY bad idea. (We need to stop looking at green space as “blank space”.)

    I would put forward that the most sustainable solution would be to use existing structures. Two that I would recommend are: The Convention Center and the enclosed space built into the parking garage at Seventh and Market.

    I know, I know, KICC, too logical — they will never go for it. It only touches all of the bus routes on Main/Market and Fourth. It only would show itself off to the visitors at the KICC who may need to make brief trips downtown. And would only sit on the Fourth Street corridor making it an easy place for transitioning between transportation modes while putting you in the center of everything.
    And the space formerly used by Lynn Imaging (at Seventh and Market) is already enclosed/heated and ready to go. And with the money saved in building a structure, a Foundation with an endowment could be set up.

  3. Like your idea of integration with the convention center, John. Makes good sense to me.

    To the contratcing point – I wonder if such city solicitations must be more “blank slate” in nature (i.e. develop this empty corner surface lot) instead of the trickier “integrate this new thing with an existing development, tenants, stakeholders, users, etc”. Then, I also wonder if the path of least resistance (the blank slate) is pursued because of standing policy or because of laziness/inside-the-box thinking on the part of city contracting officials and/or planners. That’s not to say that a blank slate development is not the best solution in this case — I wouldn’t know, I’m just an armchair BS reader.

    As Branden notes, the RFQ seems to allow much contractor discretion in the offerings and operation of the center. I could intepret that as either encouraging or worrisome. Many times, private enterprise (or the private arm of a public-private partnership) makes for the best bang-for-buck usefulness of such projects. But, in this case, I worry what may happen if the numerous, positive PUBLIC externalities of the transit station do not overlap or align with the contractor’s plans/philosophy/goals.

    We’ll wait and see. Regardless, the news is exciting and I am hopeful.

  4. The Convention center has had vacant retail/office space facing 2nd steet since it opened, probably because of lack of convenient parking and the low visibility of these spaces. Assuming the floor plans work this space seems like the logical choice.

  5. I love my bike. I ride around for exercise and pleasure. I applaud the City’s recent efforts to stripe bike lanes around town. There is absolutely no way I’d ever ride a bike downtown on Main, Market Jefferson, 2nd, 3rd, 5th streets, Broadway. I have witnessed way too many close calls. I really think increased bike traffic downtown will result in increased cyclist injury and deaths.

  6. With you 100% on your first three sentences, Jeff.

    Several studies have shown that increased bike traffic actually leads to decreases in cyclist injury and deaths. It’s a relativity issue…controlling for the greater number, there is a lower likelihood any one will be injured or killed. This seems intuitive as numbers = awareness = safety.

    Worrying or claiming that increased cycling will result in increased injuries or deaths is pessimistic at best and outright capitulation of YOUR streets at worst. (Note: I am not some militant, “vehicular cyclist” either. I am for more dedicated bike lanes and infrastructure so that people that are rightfully concerned about safety feel a little safer. I know I do in a bike lane.)

  7. There are definitely concerns about a couple of the city-suggested sites, in my opinion.

    The Founders' Square site needs to be completely redesigned as a major public space, especially if Cordish is going to move forward with Center City. Piecemeal additions will only make it more difficult.

    The parking lot at city hall suffers for the same reasons as well as the fact that the Capital Plaza tower was proposed for that site (although it's current on hold – read more here). That parcel needs something larger than an transit center.

    The Aegon Center park spot has some potential, but as John points out, it's going to be a delicate task to minimize loss of green space. Perhaps something partially subterranean could work?

    The 7th Street/Parking Garage site sounds promising, especially considering Jasper Ward's parking garage was originally designed to handle retail space on its southern half. Not sure why the RFP changed the address to the 7th Street side, though.

    There are plenty of other city owned sites that could have some potential, but I'm hesitant to sign on with using existing retail space as the answer. The new station needs to be highly visible, eye-catching, and distinct from its surroundings.

    Among other sites, there is some potential, I think, in a "barnacle"-type structure affixing itself to the convention center at the NE corner of 4th & Jefferson where there's currently an extremely wide sidewalk and dead corner at a plain brick wall.

    Hopefully the architects participating in the RFP will come up with some creative solutions. We'll know soon enough.

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