You all saw RTA's invitation to the Corona Transit Center groundbreaking ceremony last Friday, both on this site and from RTA. I was there on Friday morning, and I want to note I didn't see anyone else from the community down there, so I figured I'd show you all what happened.
As I mentioned, it seemed like I was the only general member of the community, or of anything that might be called the media, at the ceremony. Everyone else was related to the City of Corona, RTA, RCTC, Metrolink, or one of the contractors on the project, but let me mention that that covers quite a few people. Essentially every major political player in local transportation politics was on site. A few of the notables included Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R-Corona), Corona Mayor Pro-Tem and RTA Board Chairwoman Karen Spiegel, Riverside Councilman and RTA Board member Andy Melendrez, long-time serving local politician and Norco Councilman Frank Hall, and numerous RTA board members from every jurisdiction running from Temecula to Calimesa to Banning. (Incidentally, Calimesa has no RTA service- why do they get a board member?) From the RTA staff, CEO Larry Rubio, Marketing Director Jim Kneepkens, Planning Director Mark Stanley, Communications Director Brad Weaver, and an assortment of other staffers. Notably absent, considering his name was on the invitation, was Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA 44), who sent a representative from his office. He must've seen that I was coming, or perhaps he was too busy trying to stop health care for sick children again.
The actual presentations were a series of local politicians congratulating each other for this accomplishment, and were largely content-free. Proclamations were given, awards where exchanged, etc. I'll forgive this sort of behaviour, because it is not only the usual sort of thing with which politicians occupy their time, but it is, admittedly, a substantial accomplishment. That it took a decade or so to do isn't ideal, but I'm still glad it's been done. I will mention that I don't think Coronans are going to enjoy Ms. Spiegel's "world-class transit system", nor will this facility be "the premier transit facility in the state of California" as Mr. Rubio claimed, but I was heartened to hear her mention that the area around the facility has been zoned for transit-oriented development, and that the City of Corona is working with developers to install mixed-use housing around the site. I hope her understanding of transit-oriented development matches mine.
But enough about the ceremony- you folks want to know about the transit centre itself, I'm sure. It's slated to have 8 bus bays, a restroom for bus drivers, a 100' bus pullout at the street for Corona Cruiser routes, 26 new parking spaces and a bridge extension, connecting to the current bridge over the North Main-Corona Metrolink station. (It's interesting to note that, as of now, only 6 routes come even close to serving the transit centre- RTA 1, 3, 149 and 206, and Corona Cruiser Red & Blue. It will be a long time before this facility is over-capacity.)
Project engineer Travis Simison, with SeaWest Engineering, the centre's general contractors, says that the project is scheduled for completion in 40 weeks from this Monday, a total of 200 working days, which gives us an opening date in August or September, 2010. Personally, I'll be happy if it's done within a full year. Aside from the obvious benefits of the centre, it is expected to alleviate parking at the Park-And-Ride lot across the street, as customers will be able to use the under-utilized parking structure at the Metrolink. Of course, bringing these transit routes here also allows additional Park-And-Ride opportunities. Not the sort of thing I'm usually encouraging, but ridership is ridership.
I'd like to thank all the various local politicians and staffers who have made and are continuing to make this project happen. This centre will be an excellent addition to Corona's anemic transit system, and will hopefully help that system grow a bit. Corona Cruiser Green and Yellow routes, anyone?
I'd also like to mention that my concern for transit directions to the site seems to have been misplaced. There was one couple who walked to the actual ceremony site, but I suspect that they simply parked along the street. All other attendees besides myself drove there. I seem to have surprised many by arriving on a bicycle.