New CENTRO Transfer Center ready to open
On September 4, the face of downtown Syracuse will change, as the long awaited CENTRO Transfer Center will open.
For years, bus traffic has choked one of the major intersections of downtown Syracuse at Fayette and South Salina Streets. That won't be the case any more once the new transit hub opens at South Salina street and East Adams.
Centro Executive Director Frank Kobsliski calls it transformative. "Going from a street corner bus shelter, to a modern facility like this is what I would call a quantum leap," he said.
This new covered hub is where riders will transfer from one bus to another. And getting those buses out from the center of downtown has development specialists like Syracuse economic development chief Ben Walsh, thrilled.
"Every great city has a great public transportation system and if you want to grow and attract talented people and businesses, public transportation is a big part of that," Walsh said.
The bus drivers say they are also happy with the move, says Ken Cameron, president of the union that represents drivers.
"The congestion down to Salina and Fayette [Streets] is terrible. And now that we're here we have our own signals, we'll be able to get out and do what we have to do and get back in," said Cameron. "It's going to be a big thing."
The $18.7 million hub will have an air-conditioned and heated waiting area, a public restroom and electronic bus departure information that promises to be more accurate than the transfer set up now.
Center State CEO's Rob Simpsons says it's already had an impact on some development downtown.
"The Pike Block project, the renovation of the Landmark Theatre. All the investment in the Dey Brothers building, improvements to the chase tower. These projects all are triggered in part by the creation of this facility," he said.
Simpson also says there are also some talks in the works to bring more retail to the storefronts that used to be blocked by the idling buses that used the corner of Fayette and Salina Streets as a transfer center.
This transit hub has been in the works for almost four decades. Once the location was secured and federal funding was in place, the project was able to move ahead.