By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY - With a $1.1 million federal grant in their glovebox, Indian River County public transit leaders are moving full-speed ahead on a project to build a new bus hub.
The Senior Resource Association, the nonprofit in charge of GoLine, the free bus system in Indian River County, was awarded the grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, as part of the federal transit administration's bus livability grant program.
Currently, the main transfer hub for GoLine is near the old county administration building in downtown Vero Beach and is very close to occupied residential homes. Residents of those homes have frequently complained about their quality of life and safety being affected by the bus line transfer point being in their neighborhood.
Karen Deigl, president and CEO of the Senior Resource Association and GoLine Indian River transit, said the new hub is scheduled to be completed by December 2013.
The grant is expected to completely cover the cost of building the bus hub, which will include permanent restrooms and covered shelters.
The hub is expected to be constructed on land near the intersection of 17th Street and the FEC railroad. The land is currently owned by the city of Vero Beach and city councilors have previously given preliminary permission for GoLine to use the property.
An exact timeline for construction has not been given, but the Senior Resource Association is hopeful to move to the new location by December 2013.
The agreement would need to be revised and reapproved, but Ms. Deigl is confident the city is behind the project.
"There is no infrastructure there yet, we'd need to put in utilities and the rest of the land will be concrete and tarmac," Ms. Deigl.
The location does sit right next to the railroad tracks, so for safety reasons, the hub will likely be surrounded by a fence, she said.
The next steps are to receive project approval from the county commission and set up the bid process for the architects, engineers and the contractors, Ms. Deigl said.
The Senior Resource Association regularly pursues grants to fund capital improvement and other projects to better the GoLine organization.
Recently, they were awarded a $2.2 million American reinvestment and recovery act grant, which enabled the organization to build a new administrative and maintenance headquarters. A $500,000 state of good repair grant allowed for some updates and modernization to the bus fleet, a press release said.
GoLine reached and exceeded 1 million riders in a fiscal year this past June. Company representatives said there has been a 250 percent increase in ridership since 2007. The fleet is made up of 61 buses.
For more information about GoLine routes, call (772) 569-0903 or visit www.golineirt.com.