CEDAR RAPIDS — It’s done: The City Council on Tuesday pulled the plug on a decade-long plan to build an Intermodal Transit Facility. Instead, the city’s bus operation will return to the flood-damaged Ground Transportation Center.
City bus patrons have been using modular homes placed in a city parking lot at Second Street and 12th Avenue SE as the city bus depot since the flood three years ago.
Going back to the GTC depot will mean giving up on an $8 million federal transit grant, awarded to the city a decade ago, to build a new Intermodal facility. Initially, the plan was to build the Intermodal with a parking ramp and keep the GTC depot open. The city’s plan, though, evolved and called for the closing of the GTC depot.
However, the city learned it would need to pay back federal transit officials about $3.6 million if it stopped using the GTC depot because federal funds were used to build it in the first place.
Brad DeBrower, the city’s transit manager, and Pat Ball, the city’s utilities director, are recommending that the council modify the setup at the GTC terminal so buses no longer back out of stalls as they depart from the depot. Such a practice has been deemed dangerous and was one reason the council decided to abandon the depot before the flood of 2008.
City Council member Justin Shields on Tuesday said he understood he no longer had the votes on the council to build a new bus facility, but he said he hoped that the council understood that returning the city’s bus operation to the GTC depot would take “major” work.
“The whole area is filthy,” Shields said. He said a return would require changes in cement work around the depot and a reshaping of the streets in accord with redevelopment occurring along First Street SE.
“It’s a maze to figure out where you’re going down there,” Shields said.
City Council member Monica Vernon thought the city could clean up the site and get back into it for less than $1 million in repairs.
Shields asked City Manager Jeff Pomeranz if the city stood any chance in hanging on to any part of its $8 million transit grant, and Pomeranz called that outcome “problematic.”
Pomeranz “strongly” recommended that the council move back to the GTC depot.
DeBrower said renovation at the GTC depot would come in 2012.