Transit’s Next Step: The Multi-Modal Facility
In my last post, I discussed a renewed focus on train station design, which can help communities create a focal point and hopefully, a new found interest in their downtowns. However, we have seen some municipalities that want to take this a step further in order to spark a more significant downtown revitalization. To do this, they need to go beyond the stand-alone train station, and incorporate a complete Multi-Modal Facility.
Many existing cities find that, over the years, their downtowns have been neglected. With the large shopping malls and related dining and entertainment venues that have followed, the original center of activity, the downtown, has often become a place of empty storefronts and minimal activity. That, however, is changing as these municipalities are rediscovering the value that a vibrant and active downtown can have on their entire community.
Hidden behind the vacant warehouse and neglected lot may be the seeds for a community cornerstone: the Multi-Modal Facility, which adds retail, hospitality, entertainment, and parking to the transit mix. This entices people back to and resuscitates forgotten urban areas.
Multi-Modal Facilities accommodate a variety of commuters: rail, bus, automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian. They integrate into mixed-use developments to create vibrant hubs that encourage alternative transportation. Also, they encourage commuters and residents to spend more time downtown.
The Quad Cities technically consists of two Iowa cities and two Illinois cities, but actually encompasses other surrounding communities. A new project will convert the first floor of a vacant six-story building into a transportation hub in Moline (IL), one of the Quad Cities. Stakeholders anticipate that the Multi-Modal Facility, part of a full-block redevelopment, will not only kick off a revitalization of downtown Moline, but will also reestablish passenger rail service from Chicago to the Quad Cities.
Multi-Modal Facility projects also offer a great opportunity to build excitement by bringing community members into the planning process. For instance, community engagement sessions fueled the plan for the City of Rockford’s Multi-Modal Transportation Center now under design. Those who attended asked questions to the architects, presented challenges, and offered their thoughts on what should be included in the facility, as well as the preferred architectural style. The resulting facility will represent the residents of Rockford well.