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Old Posted Dec 26, 2006, 12:03 AM
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Bus Depot set for 2008 opening

There was an article in the Tennessean today about this bus depot:

Bus depot set for 2008 opening
MTA to take construction bids; facility will have shops, parking

Staff Writer

By fall 2008, public transportation users will be passing time between buses at a facility its designers say will feel more like a modern train station than a busy city block.

Metro Transit Authority officials last week approved the final funding to start taking bids on construction of the Music City Central bus depot, a transit facility with indoor waiting areas, retail shops and parking. The MTA board expects to award a contract by the spring to start building on the site along Charlotte Avenue between Fourth and Fifth avenues, next to the Municipal Auditorium.

"We should see dust flying by the first of April, and 14 to 18 months later we should be opening the facility," said Paul Ballard, CEO of the Metro Transit Authority.

The depot and adjoining parking lots were originally estimated to cost $38.5 million, but with rising construction costs and delays in the project, the price tag is now closer to $48.4 million.

Architect Gary Everton of Everton Oglesby Architects said they're planning to use the natural incline of the block, where two parking lots currently reside, to stack parking lots and bus bays.

State employees who park in that lot now shouldn't worry: The state will contribute the final $6.5 million needed for the project in exchange for a 25-year lease on 343 parking spaces in the facility.

The reconfigured parking lots will become part of the depot in a design that will focus on creating "active street edges" on the block instead of open space, Everton said. He envisions entrances on Fourth and Fifth avenues, and coffee shops or newspaper stands along the building's perimeter.

Sidewalk will be 'lively'

"When you have retail and people coming and going, it makes for a lively, active sidewalk and it's a more safe environment," Everton said. "This is really going to change the face of downtown."

MTA's downtown bus operations are centered on Deaderick Street now, a spot that a 2005 study deemed problematic for a number of reasons: Transferring riders often had to jaywalk to get to their next bus, there's little room for growth, and congestion often forces buses to double-park or line up in an inconsistent order.

Outdoor bus malls are "basically not very functional," said Patricia Harris-Morehead, communications director for MTA. "They went out of date in the 1970s, and most transit systems already have transfer stations."

Amber Hurst of east Nashville started using the bus regularly about a month ago. Aside from wishing the buses ran a little later, she's found the system runs pretty efficiently. She often gets off work downtown late at night, and she said she'd prefer an indoor place to wait.

"Security could be better (inside) … and it will be nicer, too, when the weather gets cold," Hurst said. "Sometimes at night it can be kind of creepy."

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