Transit mall renovation delayed for one year

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Construction for the Santa Rosa Transit Mall renovation project has been delayed until next summer. The construction start date has been pushed back until June 1, 2011, transit authorities said.

Administrative services officer Jason Parrish with the City of Santa Rosa Transit & Parking Department said that due to delays in finalizing the design and resolving some complications, the start date kept being pushed back. It made sense to delay the project until 2011 so that patrons will not be forced to use the temporary transit mall during the winter months. The current transit mall, though lacking in style and modernity, provides shelter from the elements, which the temporary hub does not.

Over the next year until construction begins, components such as steel plates will be fabricated, thus utilizing the time of delay to advantage, ensuring all materials are ready to be incorporated for construction. Also, a far more robust advertising campaign will be developed in the meantime to increase ridership and awareness of the newly improved transit mall facilities, Parrish said.

The city of Santa Rosa is currently finalizing its contract and scope of work with artist Leticia Huerta of Arlington, Texas, who will work on the artwork and design at the Transit Mall.

Huerta is experienced with public arts projects and has worked with several transit systems in the U.S. to create beautiful and unique transit hubs. She incorporates local elements and mosaics into her design.

According to Parrish, the new design will include two seating alcoves with restrooms in between. Huerta is working with the Art Start program to design mosaics that will be placed across the outer walls of the restrooms. Cut-metal floral designs in steel plate panels will decorate the walls.

Patrons of the new transit mall will look at the shelter above them to see artwork beneath the overhang, “rendering them virtually surrounded by art,” Parrish said. The color scheme of materials will incorporate blue, pale beige and silver. Parrish described “TivoFlex,” a low-energy architectural accent and color lighting that will be incorporated into the design. This will add atmosphere and brighten the area.

Different colored edge-pavers around the sidewalks will border the space, creating a pattern.

The design is both pleasing to the eye and functional. “The idea,” Parrish said, “is to take structures that must be put in anyway, and treat them in an artistic manner. This will elevate the experience for everyone.”

A modern aesthetic and pleasant surroundings will replace the current industrial feeling of the venue. The electrical and plumbing lines which now hang near the parking garage will not be visible. Seventy percent of the obstructions on the sidewalk will be removed, leaving as much open space as possible. Public transportation will also be made easier for disabled patrons. Two high-visibility crosswalks will cut the street into thirds. All facilities will be wheelchair accessible and in accordance with the American Disability Association, Parrish said.

Design elements like cut-design steel plates will replace the prison-like steel bars which now decorate the parking lot. Safety will be increased with the addition of upgraded video surveillance systems which will make it easier for the police to respond to disturbances or problems.

Instead of being a dull, drab, and overall forgettable place to wait, planners hope to give the transit mall a modern atmosphere, which will encourage people to utilize public transportation. More weather-protective covers will be added, providing riders with a comfortable place to wait.

The transit mall is not only going to become more aesthetically pleasing. New signs and kiosks will make taking the bus as easy and convenient as possible for patrons. Buses will be equipped with GPS to provide riders with real-time estimated times of arrival along all bus routes. Parrish also said that regional and downtown maps, and signs providing transit fares and schedules are going to be added, enabling the patron to fully take advantage of all that is available.

“Public transit is a virtue. We want to make sure that we are treating our patrons as such,” Parrish said.

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