05/15/09 — GATEWAY considers using former W.P. Rose location for maintenance

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GATEWAY considers using former W.P. Rose location for maintenance

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 15, 2009 1:46 PM

Talks are under way between the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority and the owners of the old W.P. Rose site north of downtown for possible use as a maintenance facility for the authority's GATEWAY vehicles.

The site was discussed first during a Thursday afternoon session of the Union Station study steering committee and then at the GATEWAY Transportation Service Plan steering committee meeting.

No specifics or prices were mentioned during the discussions after committee members were informed that a reporter was in the audience.

Meanwhile, the Union Station group looked at several striping options for Carolina Street and at how the long-gone portico at the station could be folded into the project.

Once completed, Union Station will be home to rail traffic as well as bus traffic from GATEWAY and Greyhound.

Both meetings were conducted by Greg Saur and George Alexiou of Martin, Alexiou, Bryson, project consultants.

After looking at the options, it was decided to leave the curbing as it is along Carolina Street and to provide parallel parking along the street next to the station.

"It would be eight feet wide for parking and 12-foot travel ways," Saur said. "The plan is once the rail is in operation, the crossing at Mulberry Street will be closed. No longer will you be able to access the next street from Mulberry.

"One idea we are investigating is to utilize some of the railroad right of way to actually build a bus-only access road that would go out to Ash Street therefore taking bus traffic off Carolina and the residential area."

Saur said the portico foundation had been found. He said he did not know how long it had been missing from the station, although it was missing in historical photos taken in the 1950s.

Options are being considered that utilize the portico, while in others it would not be used. There is, he said, "a strong desire" to use the portico in the historical restoration.

The concern is that because of traffic space constraints a portico could impede pedestrian traffic since the portico would be close to the entrance to Union Station.

"It is probably an architectural issue at this point," he said.

Saur noted that GATEWAY currently operates out of an old 'firehouse" making it "less than ideal for maintenance."

The Rose property has an existing office building and an area that could accommodate three to four full-size buses. The property is bordered by Grantham, James and Holly streets and an unnamed street.

Located adjacent to the property is an old concrete plant site that might also could be purchased to expand the property.

Saur recommended that more environmental study be completed before the deal is finalized. However, he said it is a "good deal" and suggested negotiations continue.

The site has room for a fuel island, parking for buses and a wash station, Saur said.

Saur also presented a PowerPoint presentation outlining the goals of the service plan study and results of a recent rider survey.

The purpose of the plan, he said, is to better serve the county's existing and future transit needs. It will develop a five-year short-range plan, a 10-year mid-range plan and a 20-year long-range plan.

Survey results for the most part indicate that riders are pleased with the services, hours and routes offered by GATEWAY.

Suggestions include a student or monthly pass as well as extending hours on Saturday.

GATEWAY Director Alan Stubbs said part-time drivers are used for the evening routes. Extending the operating hours would make them full-time employees and require a benefits package which would be "costly," he said.

Safety also could be an issue, he said. For example, it gets dark early in the winter and "we run in some pretty tough places. I don't know if the riders or drivers would feel safe."

Stubbs also had problems with issuing unlimited ride passes.

Someone could buy one then pass it around to other riders, he said.

Saur said the next steering committee meeting would be held within the next two months.

Also, the second of two public meetings will be held in July.