Illinois Terminal expansion project to continue despite pandemic delays

People+aboard+the+1N+Yellow+MTD+bus+at+the+Illinois+Terminal+on+Oct.+19%2C+2019.+MTD+will+be+moving+forward+with+their+plan+to+expand+the+Illinois+Terminal+with+aid+from+a+grant+provided+by+the+Federal+Transit+Administration.

The Daily Illini Photo File

People aboard the 1N Yellow MTD bus at the Illinois Terminal on Oct. 19, 2019. MTD will be moving forward with their plan to expand the Illinois Terminal with aid from a grant provided by the Federal Transit Administration.

By Lika Lezhava, Staff Writer

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District is moving forward with plans to expand the Illinois Terminal located at 45 E. University Ave., Champaign after delays caused by the pandemic. 

One of the most-used transportation facilities by residents and students in the Champaign-Urbana area, utilization of the Illinois Terminal has grown by 50% since its opening in 1999 and is continuing to grow, according to the MTD website. 

Expansion plans have been in the works since 2012. The expansion will add more platforms and provide accommodations for 23 buses, along with many more improvements. 

Although MTD’s project presentation stated that the project development was set to start in 2021, “there have been some delays with the pandemic as well,” said Jane Sullivan, the external affairs director of MTD.

Architectural and engineering designs will hopefully start sometime this year, with construction following in the next couple of years, Sullivan said.

With this addition, there will be less wait times as well as more “on-time performance.” Overall, MTD will be building a safer, improved and up-to-date establishment. 

According to the MTD website, the expansion will include “a mixed-use structure for retail, residential and parking accommodations” and will make it easier for people to access the trains, buses and more. 

With a more than $17 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, MTD will be constructing the shell of the building and allowing a private developer to decide what will be inside. 

“It was originally going to be offices upstairs that we would lease out,” said Phil Fiscella, a member of the board of trustees for MTD. 

However, after the pandemic, Fiscella said there was no more need for office spaces, so the board decided to continue constructing the shell of the building with the federal money, and the private developers will be renovating the apartments inside. 

Fiscella said that regardless of when construction starts, the Illinois Terminal will continue to be operational for the community.

Additionally, MTD conducted an environmental impact analysis to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.

According to the project presentation, MTD will be safely working on the project, making sure that there will be little to no damage to the environmental surroundings or future surroundings, as well as little to no significant impacts to the community in terms of noise and hazards. 

“Our hope is to have an improved facility for both our students and our community,” Sullivan said.

 

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