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Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Summit County draws plans for Frisco Transit Center redesign
Summit County is looking for ways to redesign Frisco’s Transit Center and create a hub for countywide transportation. While the project is just in the initial planning stages, Summit hopes to start construction for the beginning phases of the project next summer.
“The Frisco Transit Center, with the Bustang coming online, has real regional significance. It really will play increasingly a regional role in transportation,” said Melissa Sherburne, a project manager for Brynn Grey Partners who oversaw the creation of a design charrette for the project.
In the near future, the county is looking at simple, much needed improvements including fixing shuttle circulation, adding sidewalks and lighting and signs through the transit center. With the Summit Stage, Greyhound buses and CDOT’s interregional Bustang shuttles all sharing the same lot, the county plans to create a dedicated space for each of these transportation systems.
“We’re looking at changing the circulation within the transit center while being mindful of what might come in the later phases,” said Summit County Transit Director Jim Andrew. “We want to be consistent with the longer-term plan.”
Thanks to a $593,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation, the county will be able to start those projects next summer, but Sherburne and her team are looking past that for the future.
“The CDOT grant is the immediate opportunity. There’s a long-term opportunity to integrate with the surrounding developments,” Sherburne said. “The hope would be that people could move seamlessly between the transit center and the adjacent properties. We’re hoping to integrate the whole area as a campus.”
CDOT’s grant was based on a 1999 expansion plan created for transit center, just a year after its creation. Since that plan was developed, Summit Stage’s ridership has doubled and the number of airport shuttles has increased from one to three. Now, the transit center sees 300,000 each year, and the Summit Stage reported an average of 300,000 riders per year.
Not only has the transit center changed, but its surroundings have, too. What was once a lot tucked behind a grocery store is now sandwiched between two major shopping areas, with Safeway, Walmart and several retail stores in front, and Whole Foods in a new development just on the opposite side.
“I think whenever the transit center was originally constructed of that location, the makeup of the community was very different in that it was the back of Frisco station,” said Jocelyn Mills, Frisco’s community development director. “Now it’s very different in that they do have commercial on both sides.”
“It’s really in the heart of this activity area, what’s becoming the commercial core of Frisco,” Sherburne added.
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
The planned second phase of the two to five-year project will add shade structures and shelters to the transit center, a central plaza, a revamped rental building and, hopefully, a walkway connecting the center with the Frisco Station shopping area.
Andrew said that Summit County planned to meet with the Frisco Station Condominium Owners Association to work with retailers in the segment between Safeway and Walmart to create a walkway through the development.
So far, condominium owners have approved of the idea.
“We’re definitely supportive of anything the transit center wants to do with the Frisco Station Transfer because it’s our neighbor,” said George Swintz, with the Frisco Station Condominium Owners Association. “We can start to promote our businesses at the transit center for traffic going in and out of there. That’s a big number of people coming and going.”
Before any plans can but put in place, the county will need Frisco’s approval to alter the space. So for now, the county is developing more specific plans that can be presented at the town planning commission’s formal review process.
“They need to talk to each other, get on the same page and figure out who’s doing what, and who’s paying for what,” said Summit Stage Transit Board president Kent Willis, a former town council member. “I’m hoping that we can develop some partnerships between the town and the county and the commercial owners out there to do some better planning and fund all that.”
The final, most far-removed stage of the project would look at parking expansion, developing a building on the north side of the lot and establishing a regional connection, such as a light rail. Additional ideas for the space included opening a coffee shop in a building just across from the transit center, and adding electronic signs that would sync with Summit Stage’s SmartBus system to display future bus times.
“Hopefully we can do all of it. Whether we can or not, time will tell. But we have the grant from CDOT to make some of the basic changes,” Andrew said. “It’s gonna be more than your run-of-the-mill transit center; I think we’re going to be more of a destination.”