By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
As the plans to deliver a larger bus depot and better transportation options into Chicago move forward, members of the village board are on to the process of seeking the right design for the new PACE park and ride facility.
On July 24, village trustees were introduced to a concept plan for the site, set to open sometime in 2018.
Construction of the project was approved back in January. In March, the village board made an engineering agreement with Baxter and Woodman for a new facility accommodate a new bus depot for PACE, the suburban bus division of the Regional Transportation Authority.
The scope of the project includes a 400-space parking lot, with future expansion to accommodate 600 cars.
The lot will include an entrance drive from Van Dyke Road, with a traffic signal and turn lanes off the roadway, and a shelter with washrooms included as part of the bus depot.
The concept plan for the new facility will mirror other bus depots that PACE uses throughout the region. The proposal includes a 1,600 square foot building, with restrooms. The site will be outfitted with LED lighting and security cameras, which will tie in with other security systems already in use in the village.
Landscaping, a detention pond and rain garden, storm sewer improvements, and construction of a water main to the site will also be included in the construction.
The village will look to push to construction quickly.
A review meeting on the concept plan is set for Aug. 15. After approval by the board, the village hopes to go to bid on the project in September, and award that bid by October to allow for a fall groundbreaking.
PACE began bus service between Plainfield and Chicago in 2009. While ridership was small at the onset, the implementation of the “on the shoulder” program in 2011, where buses are permitted to ride into Chicago on the shoulder of I-55 to bypass much of rush hour backups, boosted ridership.
Since that time, PACE has increased its on-time percentage to roughly 92 percent, up from just around 60 percent on-time percentage prior to shoulder access.
As of 2016, ridership had increased 300 percent since the first riders boarded the buses five years earlier.
Approximately 250 people use the buses every day from Plainfield’s two stops. The two routes, Route 855 and Route 755, consist of a total of 36 buses per day.
Current parking for PACE incudes 36 spaces at City Hall, 25 spaces on Village Center Drive, 45 spaces along Van Dyke Road, and 75 spaces at Larry’s Diner. But the increasing popularity of the bus route into Chicago, plus a possibility to grow the PACE program by adding more routes in the region, have prompted the village to push ahead with a new larger park and ride facility to accommodate more cars, as well as a shelter for passengers.
The land where the facility will be constructed is part of a previous purchase of 58 acres of farm land made by the village over a decade ago. The land was originally set to accommodate the proposed Suburban Transit Access Route (STAR) Line Railway project, a plan proposed in 2003 but ultimately scrapped due to lack of funding. Village leaders are currently exploring options to develop the reminder of the property.
PACE operates weekday rush hour bus service into Chicago from two stops in Plainfield, one at Larry’s Diner, the other adjacent to the Village Hall.
The new facility is expected to cost $5.8 million, with PACE reimbursing the village for the total cost of the project.
The agreement between the village and PACE will last 40 years.