Public gets peek at proposed Fuller Road transit center, parking structure
The public got its first look at a proposed new parking structure and transit station on Fuller Road in Ann Arbor this afternoon during a workshop at city hall.
A few dozen residents attended the first informal session at 3 p.m., perusing posters and computer animation of the project. A second session was scheduled for 6-8 p.m.
The Fuller Intermodal Transportation Station would include a parking structure with 900 spaces; a bicycle station with room for storage, servicing and a shower and changing facility; a transit center for buses; and a train platform that could serve Amtrak, a new commuter rail service, or a so-called “signature service” transit line. It would be located on city-owned land on the current site of a parking lot in the shadow of the University of Michigan Hospital.
Plans also call for improvements to Fuller Road, including a possible roundabout at Island Drive, and pedestrian improvements. The parking structure would be five stories tall.
Eli Cooper, transportation program manager for the city of Ann Arbor, said federal stimulus money is being pursued for the project to the tune of $8 million to $10 million for design and $42 million for construction. That would leave about $20 million to be split in some way between the city and U-M, which would control 75 percent of the parking spaces, city officials said.
“The city and university are in deliberations about how we might share in the Phase I investment,” Cooper said.
City planner Wendy Rampson said the cost of the parking structure may be split in proportion to the share of the parking spots allocated to the city and university.
The plans, which could be presented to the Ann Arbor City Council as soon as its Oct. 16 meeting, received positive reviews from many who attended the workshop.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” said Frank Schwende, an Ann Arbor resident and chemist with the Environmental Protection Agency who attended the event in a biking jersey and carried a bike helmet.
“It’s an opportunity for the city of Ann Arbor to put out a visible sign that it embraces the bicycle as a serious mode of transportation,” he said.
Schwende said the large parking structure gave him pause, but his experience getting to and from the hospital to care for a sick loved one convinced him more parking is needed. As for spending city money on such a project in a recession, he said it could be a wise long-term move.
“You have to build for the future,” he said. “This may be the best time to do it.”
Jesse Bernstein, former head of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce, said he was most excited about the cooperation between the city and university.
“They’re collaborating in a way that’s absolutely brilliant,” he said.
City Councilwoman Sandi Smith also gave the project a good review.
“I think this is incredibly exciting,” she said.
The time frame put out by the city calls for public review and input on the preliminary design in spring 2010; public review of an environmental assessment that has already started in summer 2010; design planning for the intermodal transit center to be completed in spring 2010; and design on utilities and roads to run through winter 2010. Bidding for construction would be in fall 2010, and construction would be completed in summer 2012.
The structure would essentially replace a university-planned parking facility slated for Wall Street that was recently scrapped. University officials were not present at the City Hall event.
Freelance reporter Dan Meisler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.