Monday, Oct. 25, 2010 | 4:05 p.m.
Bonneville Transit Center
The Regional Transportation Commission celebrated the completion of the Bonneville Transit Center on Monday, complete with the Sin City Rollergirls, a slew of local painters, middle-school violinists and a guy with a boa constrictor – all meant to showcase Las Vegas culture.
The $17 million, 20,000-square-foot transit center will begin operations Nov. 7. It will serve as the hub for the RTC’s services and will be home to 16 new bus routes, including regular and rapid transit routes, RTC spokeswoman Tracy Bower said.
RTC general manager Jacob Snow said planning for the Bonneville Transit Center began nine years ago. The RTC broke ground on the project about a year ago, thanks to $5.5 million in federal stimulus dollars.
“It feels like it has been a long gestation period,” Snow said. “I think that there is a lot of demand that we’re just scratching the surface of.”
Snow said the RTC chose to include entertainers – including Recycled Percussion, a group that performs on the Strip using recycled bus and bike parts as drums – because he “wanted to highlight some of the cultural opportunities of downtown.”
Formerly, the hub was the Downtown Transportation Center on Main Street – a building leased from the city of Las Vegas, Bower said. The new center, 101 E. Bonneville Ave., will be near many new developments downtown, including the new city hall building and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
The LEED Gold-Certified transit center will also feature a bike repair shop and space to store 100 bikes, Bower said. For a fee, yet to be determined, bike riders can store their bike at the center, and even shower in locker rooms at the site so they can get to work without a car.
Snow, who called the building an example of “greenfrastructure,” said the bike storage was his favorite part of the new center.
Eventually, Bower said, the site will add to its green appeal by offering bikes for rent.
Because the building has solar panels on its roof that will provide 50 percent of the center’s energy, SolarGenerations, a part of NV Energy, gave the RTC a rebate check for $359,450 at the event. The money will go toward paying the center’s costs and back into RTC projects.
Many Southern Nevada political leaders attended the event, including U.S. Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus, both of whom are seeking re-election Nov. 2.
“When I see this beautiful facility and what this is going to provide for us … I think it’s time that we appreciate what we have and what those stimulus dollars have done,” Berkley said.
Titus echoed Berkley, saying “Next time you hear someone say [the Recovery Act] failed, bring them down here and show them this facility. There are some things government does very well.”
The RTC construction project created 1,200 temporary jobs.
Mayor Oscar Goodman, describing what he called a “renaissance” in the area, said he hoped the new transit center would help downtown Las Vegas to continue to develop. In listing many of the new offerings on Fremont Street, he mistakenly called a hookah lounge a “hooker lounge.” The audience laughed.
“I can’t get rid of the reputation that preceded it,” Goodman said, realizing he had mistakenly pointed out one of the ways the area had changed.