Fuller Road transit center to include modest Phase I plan
Ann Arbor officials have both a long-term vision and a short-term goal to create a new gateway to the city along Fuller Road.
The long-term vision ties in "everything including the kitchen sink," said Eli Cooper, the city's transportation program manager.Â
In the short-term, it focuses on what's feasible now.
Members of the city's project team working on the Fuller Road intermodal transit station gave an update to the City Council Monday night. They relayed news of their progress as they develop a detailed concept plan, from which a more limited Phase I project plan has evolved.
"What you see before you is a more modest facility," Cooper told council members. "It still includes the bicycle storage area. It includes an indoor bus platform area on the south portion of the building and there's also a bus waiting area internally, so that the folks that might use this facility to either access a work site or access other parts of our community would have a comfortable, first-class waiting area and transit loading area."
Tying in a commuter rail is a hope for future phases, Cooper said.
"The intent is to create both an identity for the train station and a very functional intermodal facility," Cooper said of the city's long-term vision. "We still believe that we have the opportunity here to link all of the modes of transportation - walking, bicycling, transit, rail, and, if you include the University of Michigan heliport, we also have air travel."
The city and University of Michigan agreed in August to partner on a $541,717 effort to come up with conceptual plans for the new transportation center. It would be located along the south side of Fuller Road, just east of East Medical Center Drive and north of the University of Michigan Hospital.
City officials anticipate an experimental commuter rail line will be up and running in late 2010, relying on the current Amtrak station on Depot Street. The city is in talks with Amtrak about relocating its services to Fuller Road. The city also is working with MDOT as a partner in the state's high-speed rail application.
"So, although not contained as part of the Phase I element, we continue to work feverishly behind the scenes with the rail program administrators to try to secure the resources to get those elements woven into the fabric of the Fuller Road station as soon as possible," Cooper said.
Cooper told council members he's looking for their input as the project team prepares to push forward its Phase I concept. He said the team will be seeking approval of the concept plan and direction to proceed with designs at an upcoming meeting.
Council members said Monday night they're impressed with the work so far.
"I'm very excited. It's looking wonderful and it incorporates so many designs and different forms of transportation," said Council member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward.
"The synergy and the timing, it seems to me, couldn't be better," said Mayor John Hieftje. "I had a conversation with the president of the university just last week on this subject, and we all seem to be moving together in the same direction."
Jim Kosteva, U-M's director of community relations, attended Monday's meeting and reaffirmed the university's support for the project. He said a recent two-day workshop incorporated a wide variety of community interests.
"The university, to date, is extremely excited and pleased with the efforts that have been put forward," he said. "We've developed a concept plan for the first phase and future phases that attempt to incorporate most all of those interests and we're excited about that. This is one of those proverbial win-win kinds of opportunities."
Cooper said he's hoping to begin construction in earnest in late 2010, with the facility in place by mid-2012 if all goes as planned.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529.