Metro bus station construction nears
KANKAKEE — The half-block River Valley Metro Mass Transit bus transfer station — targeted for the south half of the 300 block of North Schuyler Avenue — could finally begin construction this spring.
Rob Hoffmann, CEO of River Valley Metro, the fixed-route bus system for the Kankakee-Bradley-Bourbonnais-Manteno area, said at Tuesday’s Kankakee City Council Budget Committee meeting the system could soon begin the $1.6 million first phase of the project.
The first step to this project is getting the city to hand over the property titles for the recently acquired land. Because this is a metro project, the Illinois Department of Transportation has stated the Metro system must have the property deeds.
Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong confirmed at the meeting the city could turn over the property to Hoffmann within the next 30 days. She said some final details are being worked out regarding the land transfer.
This transfer station has been in various stages of discussion since 2007, Hoffmann said at the meeting.
Gaining state funding and gaining title to the property had always been the holdup.
The goal of the transfer station is to move the bus passenger transfers out of the 200 block of East Chestnut Street. The transfers literally were taking place in the street as there was no dedicated off-street area.
Hoffmann said the project could take as long as one construction season to complete. Final designs still are being put together. Those plans also must gain the approval of IDOT.
The goal is to create an overhead cover for the station to protect bus riders from rain or snow. The area for riders would be slightly elevated and well lit. Hoffmann said there also is a possibility of having some type of heating system within the concrete platform to prevent ice from forming.
A canopy to cover the platform and the awaiting buses would likely not be part of the initial construction.
Hoffmann added the Metro system also would like to participate in the new lighting program, which the city is ready to start this spring in the 100 block of North Schuyler and the 100 and 200 blocks of South Schuyler.
“This (development) could be a gamechanger for the area” north of the Paramount Theatre, he said.
The transfer station would consume the entire south half of the block, meaning the alley running through the middle of the block between the 300 block of North Schuyler and the 300 block of North Dearborn avenues would be vacated.
The transfer station would feature a circular drive where several buses would be parked at once allowing riders to board different buses to complete their commute.
The entire project would not be completed with the $1.6 million, however. Hoffmann said early discussions with engineers have indicated the final cost could be closer to $3 million or $3.5 million.
Because of that, the project might have to be completed in two phases.
The bus system began in July 1999 and has transported several hundred thousands riders each of the past several years.