Transit No Longer a Priority for Springfield’s Union Station

Posted on Monday, January 11 2010 by Heather Brandon

Union Station in Springfield. Photo by H Brandon

Union Station in Springfield. Photo © H Brandon

According to the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, the agency is no longer handling the major redevelopment effort of Springfield’s Union Station. Instead, the Springfield Redevelopment Authority will be in charge of making the project happen. The PVTA so far had been on the verge of hiring a project manager, as requests for qualifications had already gone out to bid, but it has been stopped in its tracks.

Some say the reasons are political.

On the surface, the reason is this: transit is no longer the number one priority for the redevelopment effort. Instead, the priority is economic development, with transit coming in second.

Put another way, the priority for this transportation development project is no longer, in a word, transportation. Perhaps instead the aim is being able to channel the large amounts of federal funding, with transit a distant consideration. Instead the project’s main priority will be labeled “economic development.” Transit is ostensibly now a second tier priority.

The two priorities could go hand in hand, and moving the project forward could be regarded as more important than such labels at this stage of things. It seems a shame and a show of unnecessary disregard to oust the PVTA from leadership of the project in addition to demoting transit in significance. What did transit ever do to the SRA?

Last year, the PVTA and SRA were able to negotiate a memorandum of understanding (PDF) outlining how they would work together to make Union Station an intermodal reality. Today the PVTA confirmed that the memorandum is now null and void. An announcement is scheduled for Wednesday at noon by PVTA administrator Mary MacInnes on the change in priorities.

3 Responses to “Transit No Longer a Priority for Springfield’s Union Station”

  1. alcors11

    Here we go again lets destroy another Springfield landmark. The city of springfield needs to embrace this station and get it fixed up and turn it into a transet hub. Look at Worcester Union station it was refurbished and stands as a landmark in the city center. What is the next step demolotion, I say bull doze that stupid BUS station and merge it into the station complex. Lease space for small shops, ect.

  2. Peter (VanDog)

    This reminds me of something….

    Checking my notes from a Holyoke City Council subcommittee meeting last Summer, the Councilors were very aggravated with PVTA Administrator Mary MacInnes, about the new Holyoke intermodal transit station, currently under construction on Maple St.

    “She lied to us”, a council member states, as well as, “the city hasn’t even accepted the grant yet” – “PVTA is already administering the grant on the city’s behalf”, in reference to a grant for a parking deck planned for the project.

    The city councilors were aggravated that the parking deck would create only 15 new parking spaces, and create a new liability for the city since it was being built in city property. The city would also have to pay someone, probably Peter Pan Bus, to run it.

    The city has been loosing money on the other 2 parking decks it owns nearby, and will soon need to make major repairs on one of them, or tear it down. Peter Picknally’s ‘Pro Park’ runs the money loosing parking decks.

    As it turned out, PVTA suddenly dropped the parking deck from their plans for the intermodal station a few months after this meeting. The whole project should be completed before the end of January 2010. If it’s still on schedule.

    I had been too busy last Summer to write about this in my blog, but saved my notes in case something came up.

    Thank you so much for posting this Heather. Great work!

  3. Sheila McElwaine http://!?

    The Urban Land Institute got it right when it advised the city to mothball Union Station and concentrate on revitalizing downtown proper. Yes, intercity rail is important and worth working on. Yes, there is apparently a pot of federal money intended for Union Station burning a hole is the city’s pocket. But the fact is that Union Station is outside what most people think of as downtown Springfield in an amorphous auto-oriented 1960s urban renewal district.

    The mere thought of redeveloping Union Station is a big bore.

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