No Longer Modern Look for Multimodal Transport. Center, Plus High Speed Train Update

By KBJR News 1

September 11, 2012 Updated Sep 11, 2012 at 9:47 PM CDT

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - In the next few years transportation modes in Duluth will be taking big leaps forward.
Tuesday, the Duluth Transit Authority unveiled their latest plans for its multi million dollar, multi-modal facility.

Whether by foot, by bike, electric car, carpooling or high-speed rail, once current plans are a reality, downtown Duluth should be bustling with multiple ways to get around.

"From a DTA perspective this is going to help our operations be more timely, so to speak, more consistent," said Jim Heilig, the DTA's director of administration and planning.

The new facility would be more than a hub for loading busses. Plans show bike storage, extra parking, a police substation, carpooling spaces and spots to plug in electric cars, and there's also the reconstruction of the walkway crossing I-35 to the DECC.

"The Northwest Passage is by far the biggest advantage to folks in Duluth," said Heilig.

The latest plans of the multimodal facility show changes that would blend it in to Duluth's historic downtown.

"The first design, we were looking at a real modern type design with large windows and a lot of metal types of things," said Heilig.

That modern plan has now changed to one that looks more like the brick and colors of the historic downtown district.

We've brought in a more brick looking façade. We've brought down the size of the windows to a more human scale," said Heilig.

With the environmental assessment handed in and under review, construction of the $28.9 million facility could start next Spring and be completed by mid 2014, but there's also the proposed high speed train, which organizers are finishing the environmental assessment for.

"We're right on time to get that done at the end of December and once that's done, we'll do what we call PE which is preliminary engineering," said Ken Buehler of the Duluth Depot.

While that part is funded, the Northern Lights Express passenger train, still needs a major federal transportation bill to be fully funded.

"If there is a transportation bill in 2013, we got everything done to that we're on a path to about a two year build up," said Buehler.

Buehler says the goal would be to have the train running in 2015 and to link it to the new multimodal facility.

Buehler says there are a few ways the train could connect to the multimodal facility, including extending the track from the Depot area to the facility or putting in a walkway.

Posted to Web by Jena Pike