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Intermodal center plans move forward with groundbreaking

Date: 1/27/2009

By Courtney Llewellyn

Reminder Assistant Editor

HOLYOKE Despite the frigid temperatures, nearly three dozen people gathered for the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new Holyoke Intermodal Transportation Center on Monday, which will be housed within the old Central Fire Station on Maple Street.

The new multimodal center will provide improved transportation access and facilities for people traveling to, from and through downtown Holyoke, according to a release from the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority (PVTA).

"This is an exciting occasion for the city of Holyoke," Mayor Michael Sullivan told those in attendance.

Mary MacInnes, Transit Authority Administrator, said the project was "a long time coming." She noted that this was the first Federal Transit Administration (FTA) education/transportation project ready to be completed.

In addition to offering a warm place for PVTA riders in the winter and a cool place in the summer to wait for their buses, the center's first floor will also public restrooms, food venues and, according to Peter Picknelly, President and CEO of Peter Pan Bus Lines, intercity service from Holyoke to other large metropolitan areas in the region, a service which has been on hiatus for the past two decades.

The second floor will be home to Head Start, the daycare and preschool program, and the third and fourth floors will be leased to Holyoke Community College (HCC) as a location for its adult literacy programs.

"This was my father's vision," Picknelly said, "and to see it become reality is very rewarding. He wanted a one stop shop for people to improve their lives ... it's a great concept that's become a national model."

He noted that the "one stop shop" would allow parents to learn more while their children were looked after at the daycare.

President of HCC William Messner said he was "delighted to be part of this endeavor."

"It's been an educational process just getting here," Messner said.

All the speakers thanked Congressman John Olver for his hard work on making the plan a reality.

"This started in the '02 fiscal year," Olver stated. "In these times, it's hard to put together private, state and federal money ... [but] this is the kind of project that should be part of the economic recovery package."

Richard Doyle, the Regional Administrator for Region I of the FTA, added, "Many positive things are going to happen with this center. It will contribute to the economic vitality of this city."

Sullivan said it will take about a year for all the renovations to the center to be completed. The opening is slated for February 2010.

The Patrick Administration awarded $2.1 million to the project in November 2007 for design and construction costs. The project is also funded with $4,475,020 from the FTA, $533,825 from local contributions and $1 million from Peter Pan Investment.