Among the high-priority items Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan has said the municipality needs is a new hub and transit center for the local People Mover bus system. And the mayor hopes the Alaska Legislature will approve $8.2 million in the upcoming legislative session so the Municipality of Anchorage can purchase the land to build it.
Moving the transit center from downtown to midtown -- onto an 8-acre parcel of land behind the Z.J. Loussac Library -- will benefit Anchorage not just in the short term, but for decades to come, according to Lance Wilber, head of the municipality's Department of Public Transportation.
Wilber said Anchorage is outgrowing the current People Mover hub located at Sixth Avenue and H Street, which is only able to load and unload "three or four buses at a time." The newly-envisioned hub would accommodate 12 buses.
The move of the transit center would make more geographical sense for those changing routes from east and south Anchorage, Wilber and Sullivan both said.
"With the transit center, it makes more sense to have it in the center of your city," Sullivan said. "It makes routes shorter." The mayor added that the move of the transit center has been a discussion for the last couple of years.
The potential design has already been sketched out. "We want it to be on the corner of two streets," said Wilber. "We want it to have a professional, modern look. When you approach this place we don't want it to look like a parking lot with a bunch of buses."
He said he hopes the new transit center's look would blend in with the infrastructure already built or being built in midtown.
The hope is to lease retail space in the potentially 5,000-square-foot building, which Wilber claims will help fund maintenance and costs to run the building. The municipality may also see businesses and housing built adjacent to the new transit center.
Wilber added that just because the transit center may move, that doesn't mean downtown Anchorage will lose its People Mover service.