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Bloomington council hears plan for bus transfer center is moving right along

Connect Transit sign in front of its headquarters
Eric Stock
Officials at Connect Transit are reviewing proposals for construction of a new transfer center in downtown Bloomington.

The Bloomington City Council heard an update Monday night from Connect Transit General Manager David Braun, including that a recommendation is expected in late May on one of six submitted proposals to build a new bus transfer center downtown.

Originally, agency officials had hoped the former Pantagraph building would be the site of the center, but after a National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] study, the plan was abandoned.

NEPA was passed in 1970 under the Nixon administration, and requires assessments on the physical, biological, and human environment of such sites. Most federally-funded projects require such a study, said Braun.

Following the NEPA study, it was determined the former Pantagraph site would be too costly to rehabilitate for Connect Transit’s purposes. Now, the transit agency is looking at the parking deck on Market Street as the transfer center location.

Another NEPA study already has approved the parking deck site and plans are underway to review proposals for construction. Recommendations for which of six submitted proposals to choose are expected on May 28.

Braun said keeping costs down will be a priority during the review.

A grand opening for the new bus transfer center is anticipated in 2026. Braun indicated there is the potential for another bus company to be involved in using the center, opening up more opportunities for traffic and business in the downtown area.

“Having that tie into our transit center would be fantastic not only for our riders, but also people who just want to come downtown and visit,” said Braun, expressing a need to maintain the historical aesthetic of downtown Bloomington in the new center’s architecture.

“One of the ways that we’re going to do that… is to really model the effort to the streetscape project,” said Braun, adding he wants Connect Transit to replicate the kind of public engagement the streetscape project has utilized in the city-led downtown revitalization effort.

That $59 million plan is being touted as transforming the city’s core, including improved walkability, lighting, expanded public art and significant infrastructure improvements that include replacing aging sewer and water mains — in particular combined water and sewer lines — and building underground water detention to alleviate flooding concerns.

Like the streetscape plan, Braun promised there will be open houses about the new transfer center.

BCPA summer lineup

In other business, City Manager Tim Gleason commended the Bloomington Center for Performing Arts [BCPA] for its slate of upcoming summer shows and events. Performers include former Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson, rock band George Thorogood and the Destroyers, singer-songwriter Ben Folds, and the return of Irish folk group, The High Kings.

“We truly are killing it on the entertainment side,” said Gleason, who also referenced the recent three-day Disney on Ice event at Grossinger Motors Arena. “Our BCPA is just doing an amazing job,” he said, commending Deputy City Manager Billy Tyus and his team for “rejuvenating” entertainment options in Bloomington.

Adeline Schultz is a correspondent at WGLT. She joined the station in 2024.