Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Construction to start next summer on Ketchum bus hub

Mountain Rides seeking contractor for design and engineering

Express Staff Writer

Mountain Rides Transportation Authority has developed this conceptual layout for a bus transit hub at the intersection of Sun Valley Road and East Avenue in Ketchum. The hub will provide parking for up to five buses and widened sidewalks at the corners of the intersection. Last week, the Mountain Rides board of directors approved a request for proposals for design and engineering of the hub.
Courtesy graphic

    After several years in planning, Mountain Rides Transportation Authority is ready to begin final design for a Ketchum Transportation Hub for its bus routes that serve the Ketchum and Sun Valley area.
    “It’s been a long time coming and we’re excited to see it moving forward,” Mountain Rides Executive Director Jason Miller said Monday.
    On Sept. 18, the Mountain Rides board of directors approved a request-for-proposals document to solicit interested companies for design and engineering of the hub. It is to be built on both sides of Sun Valley Road at its intersection with East Avenue.
    A conceptual design of the hub provides for parking for up to five buses, sidewalk extensions at all four corners of the intersection to facilitate pedestrian traffic and islands in the middle of East Avenue on both sides of the intersection for bike parking or public art. The conceptual design also considers possible passenger shelter buildings at the Sun Valley Visitor Center and the bus stop in front of The Elephant’s Perch outdoor sports store.
    The request for proposals, referred to as an RFP, states that the hub must be designed in a way to make it a “positive addition to the downtown landscape” and must “integrate public art into the project design and development.”
    According to a schedule in the RFP, a contractor will be selected in late October or early November. The contract is also subject to approval by the Ketchum City Council. Final design is expected to be completed by April 2014, when Mountain Rides will solicit construction contractor bids. Actual construction is planned to begin in June of 2014.
    The new schedule differs from an earlier plan, when construction was intended to start this fall.
    “There’s no particular reason for the delay,” Miller said. “It was the federal approval we were waiting for and we have that now. We’ve worked a long time on it and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to rush into it. Construction in the fall can be pretty unpredictable, so we just decided to make sure everything was done right and we had a full construction year.”
    The budget for construction of the hub is $437,000, with $312,000 coming from Federal Transportation Authority grants. The Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency is contributing $100,000. The remaining $25,000 will come from a Mountain Rides capital fund.
    The Sun Valley Road and East Avenue location was selected earlier this year as the final site for the hub by the Mountain Rides board of directors and Ketchum City Council. Numerous other sites were considered, but the location was deemed the most practical and efficient for Mountain Rides operations.
    Mountain Rides held four open-house meetings for the public while site selection was being narrowed down in 2012 and early 2013.
    The transportation hub will serve as a transfer point for the various Mountain Rides routes that serve the Ketchum-Sun Valley area. Under the current plan, it will not connect directly with the Mountain Rides Valley Route than runs from Bellevue and Hailey north to Ketchum and Sun Valley.
    “I can see that happening down the road,” Miller said.
    He said scheduling complications would make it difficult for the Valley Route to connect directly with the hub because buses would have to be detoured from Main Street for the connection.
Terry Smith:

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