A year and half, and $21 million later, the DART Central Station is ready to open. The end of the project was marked with a ribbon cutting at the site on Cherry Street Tuesday afternoon.
The station was paid for with federal grants and $4 million in I-Jobs funding.
Among the features in the new building- screens telling riders when the next bus arrives, a customer service area, bike storage, restrooms and indoor waiting. But buses are just the beginning.
“It’s more than just a bus depot. This is a hinge for economic growth and development all over the south part of Des Moines and downtown Des Moines,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, who was at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.
“This will transform this area. This used to be just a vacant piece of ground, all gravel and over grown,” said Polk County Supervisor Angela Connolly, “I think this will bring in new businesses hopefully.”
That includes new opportunities on Walnut Street downtown where the current DART hub is. That area will soon open up for pedestrians, instead of buses.
Officials say the joint efforts by state, city and federal government gives them hope for future transportation projects, namely, rapid transit.
“We actually hope to start the first line on university and Ingersoll Avenue between 42nd and downtown within the next 3 to 4 to years,” said Christine Hensley, a DART Commissioner and Des Moines City Council Member.
Buses won’t actually begin rolling out of the station until Friday, November 23rd. Once that happens, the old location on Walnut Street will be shut down.