DTA considers new terminal setup to ease congestion and meet growing use

With use of the Duluth Transit Authority (DTA) constantly growing, DTA authorities have mapped out new terminal designs to replace the current Superior Street terminals and hopefully ease some of the congestion.

With use of the Duluth Transit Authority (DTA) constantly growing, DTA authorities have mapped out new terminal designs to replace the current Superior Street terminals and hopefully ease some of the congestion.

"Our transit centers have become almost too popular," said Jim Heilig from the DTA. "We've created congestion on the sidewalks because there are so many people."

The current two terminals are located on Superior Street between Second and Third Avenue West. One is in front of the Holiday Center and the other is directly across the street. Merchants in the area have also complained about the sidewalk congestion and a couple of years ago the city passed an anti-loitering ordinance because of the problems.

Heilig said the DTA started with a broad-based situation looking at 20 sites and have narrowed it down to two concepts.

"One would be a singular terminal and the other is that we'd have two smaller ones, one on each end of (down)town," said Heilig.


The proposed location for the singular terminal is in the metered parking area bordering the I-35 frontage road between Second and Third avenues west. The dual site locations would be First Street at Sixth Avenue West and First Street and Third Avenue East near St. Mary's Duluth Clinic.

Having transit centers on either end of downtown would allow for buses to get through downtown with less pauses. Heilig said there will still be stops along Superior Street, but the transfer stations would no longer be centered in the middle of town.

Heilig said there have been discussions on the development of new terminals for the past three or four years.

Different consultants were brought into Duluth to review the operations of the DTA and complete an analysis of the services.

"There are some things we can do in the short range, but the only long range solution is having a full-fledged transfer or terminal where all of the transfers could take place," said Heilig.

Sandra Lindberg uses the DTA a lot and notices that current transit centers get very busy during the middle of the day.

"There are so many people going in and out," said Lindberg.

Lindberg supports the idea of having one central transit center because it might deter kids from loitering, like they do at the current sites, by making it easier for the police to patrol.


Another frequent rider who wishes to remain anonymous also notices the congestion at the two transit centers. She said new terminals would be okay with her, as long as riders could still get on and off the bus at reasonable areas. Overall, she said that Duluth has a good transportation system.

Eighty percent of the cost of the new terminals will be funded federally, the other 20 percent of the bill will be picked up locally. Cost estimates of the project have yet to be made.

Heilig said the plans are still in the early development stages and any changes to the DTA terminals will most likely not be seen until 2005. The DTA is optimistic the new terminals would be completed in 2006 or 2007.

The DTA is planning on holding a meeting regarding the new terminals in the middle of August and plans on hosting several general public meetings before any final decisions are made.

"We realize that we need to make some changes to make both our system work better and to make the downtown work better," said Heilig. "I think this is one of the most exciting and scarier things we've looked at. Change for people is hard, and that goes for those who use the services and those who operate the services."

The current transit centers opened in the mid '80's.

Over the last few years, Heilig said the DTA has done some creative scheduling to minimize the amount of people who use the transit centers by doing through-routing which enables people to take a bus from West Duluth to the University of Minnesota Duluth campus without transferring, but there is still a concern too many people have to use the transit centers.

New terminals would mean new DTA routes, but Heilig said the changes will benefit the community as a whole.


"We have to improve the pedestrian areas, enhance the whole Skywalk system. We kinda look at this broader than just a transit system," said Heilig.

Residents are encouraged to contact the DTA by letters or e-mail to voice their concerns and opinions about the new terminals. Contact information can be found at .

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