April 2, 2012 | last updated April 21, 2012 9:39 pm

Briefing: Worcester's Transportation Hub

Tomorrow, city and state officials will celebrate the groundbreaking for a new bus transfer facility adjacent to Union Station, which will replace a hub located several blocks away in front of City Hall. The three-story, 14,000-square-foot facility will house the Worcester Regional Transit Authority's offices and act as a hub for all WRTA buses.

Why does the WRTA want to move the current bus transfer hub?

In short, the WRTA and the city think it will be better for both bus riders and the city if intra-city buses flow through Union Station, which acts as a conduit for rail, taxi and intercity bus service from Greyhound and Peter Pan. Tim McGourthy, Worcester's chief development officer, said the hub will change WRTA's current status in the city as a transportation "side player."
"This location allows us to connect riders of commuter rail into direct access thru all points in the city," McGourthy said. Those connections from Union Station will become more important when promised expansions to MBTA rail service into and out of the city are realized.

Who owns the land and what will the project cost?

The land is owned by the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, which acquired it from the city last fall. The building will cost approximately $12 million, which is being paid for by the WRTA. The agency will move its offices, located on Grove Street, to the third floor. Paratransit Brokerage Services, which provides transit services to the disabled, will take space on the second floor and part of the first. And a public lounge and retail space will be located on the other part of the first floor.

When will construction begin?

Construction begins this week. The hub is slated to open in 2013. There will be eight bus slips in the hub, which will see as many as 26 buses per hour coming through it. There will be benches and LED signage showing arrivals and departures.

What is CitySquare's role in the move?

McGourthy said the ongoing 20-acre CitySquare development is an important factor in siting the bus hub. As a part of the $563 million CitySquare undertaking - which is financed by The Hanover Insurance Co. and will include the new headquarters of Unum and Saint Vincent Hospital's cancer center, Front Street will be extended through to Washington Square. McGourthy said that will better connect the bus hub with the downtown. The new road will be open before the end of this year.

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