As Twin Transit continues to examine potential changes to its route structure ahead of an anticipated public comment period this fall, the importance of the park and ride location on Mellen Street to those discussions is becoming more apparent.
Joe Clark, director of Twin Transit, said during a meeting of the Twin Transit Advisory Board on Tuesday morning that the agency has entered into discussions with the state Department of Transportation and City of Centralia regarding possibilities for the facility, which is located adjacent to Interstate 5’s exit 81. It is used by Twin Transit but maintained by WSDOT, according to the City of Centralia Comprehensive Plan, and contains space for dozens of parked cars.
“We’re excited about the opportunity, but we need to get some clarification on some things,” Clark said. “If you call WSDOT about the property, they give out our phone number, so we need to get some clarity on what we can do with that property. … As we incorporate more traffic with our buses on Airport Road, that park and ride is going to be a big part of our plans.”
Clark briefly touched on some potential ways in which the park and ride could be used to enhance Twin Transit services. It would be ideal, he said, for buses to be able to enter and exit the property without disrupting the normal flow of traffic. Another possibility is to renovate the entrance for a portion of the property to have a gated entrance only accessible by buses.
Clark has previously floated the idea of building a small transit station at the park and ride as part of a network of satellite locations in lieu of an elaborate transit center like the one that was proposed for North Pearl Street until a ballooning scope and budget brought it to a halt.
Centralia City Manager Rob Hill said Wednesday that Clark recently brought up the Mellen Street Park and Ride during an informal conversation, and that it made sense from his point of view.
“He had some interest in working out of there as a transit hub,” Hill said. “He ran it by me, and from his conversation with me, it seemed to make perfect sense. It’s a logical direction they seem to be going. … To this point, our only involvement is that he’s run it by me and it seemed like a great idea.”
Another development brought up by Clark on Tuesday is the impending addition of two new bus stops on Harrison Avenue in Centralia. The city has granted permission for Twin Transit to affix two new route markers to existing light poles, marking what are known as curb stops.
City staff was initially hesitant when asked a few years ago by Twin Transit to allow curb stops along Harrison Avenue, but few complaints have been lodged since the first two went into operation along the West Centralia bus route. Right-of-way issues prevent Twin Transit from installing bus shelters along Harrison, and though the city plans to include the road in its upcoming multi-million streetscape project, creating pull-outs for buses is unlikely to be an option.
“There’s going to be some work done in that whole matrix of streets, but those types of things are very expensive,” Hill said. “We’re looking at Harrison as a place we’re not going to spend a lot of money. Maybe some wayfaring signs, but it’s unlikely we would be investing in those types of improvements on Harrison.”