By Adrian Skabelund for Arizona Daily Sun
Voters shot down a proposition providing money to expand bus services in Flagstaff during the last election, but that hasn’t stopped staff at the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transportation Authority (NAIPTA) from looking at the future.
Case in point, downtown Flagstaff might be seeing a more developed Mountain Line connection center after Flagstaff City Council gave the go-ahead to explore expanding the agency’s current site on Phoenix Avenue.
Mountain Line has used the location as the agency’s hub since 2008 and every one of the agencies’ 10 bus routes runs through it. But NAIPTA CEO Erika Mazza said the agency has outgrown the current infrastructure.
Perhaps more importantly, as a result of how busy the site has become, NAIPTA Development Director Kate Morley said it is difficult for drivers to navigate as the location has become unable to support all the buses that navigate through it. To address the spacing issues, the agency, Morley said, has been looking at sites the agency could build a larger downtown connection facility, preferably on the current site at Phoenix Avenue.
In addition to acting as a connection center on the ground floor, the new building could also provide administrative offices for the agency and a place drivers could leave belongings.
The building could also include space for a lost and found, as well as kiosks to buy bus passes so riders no longer need to drive to the NAIPTA headquarters on the east side of Flagstaff. More protected waiting areas would also be a priority, and Morley said the building could also include commercial or retail space the agency could rent out.
Mayor Coral Evans wondered if in addition to retail space such as a facility could also include apartments on upper floors. Evans suggested while some apartments could be designated affordable, the agency could also rent out market-rate units.
The city has considered building a parking structure on the site of the current municipal courthouse and Councilmember Charlie Odegaard brought up the possibility of a pedestrian bridge between a future parking structure and a new connection center building.
Morley added they are hoping to have the basic planning phase completed by December so the design work can be completed throughout 2020. That would mean construction could take place over 2021 and the facility would be ready by 2022; although she warned this timeline could change.
Read more at Arizona Daily Sun.