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UNLV transit center project moves ahead 

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Regents approve $3.5 million proposal for multimodal center with funding from RTC

RENO — The Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents approved plans for a ground lease that will accommodate a multimodal transit center on the UNLV campus at it’s general session in June.

The project will cost $3.5 million, with 80 percent of the costs coming from the federal government and the remaining 20 percent from a Regional Transportation Commission grant.

The proposed transit center is part of the university’s ongoing UNLV Now project, a participating ground lease agreement with Majestic Realty Co. that proposes to create a 150-acre mixed-use development on campus, including a new 40,000-seat football stadium for UNLV as well as retail shops, restaurants and student and faculty residences, according to the UNLV Now website.

The transit center will be located on the southeast corner of campus, south of the Greenspun Building, and will feature a bus depot, bike lockers and possibly shower facilities.

“Whenever you can increase the access of our campus to people and offer them access in turn, especially our residential students, to other areas [then] that’s a net benefit in a city that doesn’t do mass transit very well,” said UNLV President Neal Smatresk. “This is one of the ways we are partnering with [RTC] and others to achieve that.”

The first phase in the construction of the transit center is mostly outdoor improvements — a bus waiting area with shade structures and a possible east-to-west bus route through the campus — pending approval from the Federal Transportation Administration. Additionally, University Avenue will be connected to the road running immediately north of the Student Recreation and Wellness Center and over to Harmon Avenue.

The first phase of the project is expected to be finished by the summer of 2012. Construction will conclude with a new parking structure on the site of the transit center. The entire project will be a decade-long endeavor, according to UNLV Senior Vice President of Finance and Business Gerry Bomotti.

Those involved with the transit center project are optimistic that the construction will be completed in a timely fashion with little interference to campus life. Regent Michael Wixom, chair of the Investment and Facilities Committee that approved the ground lease and first step of the project, believes the lack of construction jobs in Las Vegas as a result of the recession will make for expedited work.

“These days, most new construction projects are coming in on-time and ahead of budget,” Wixom said.

The project is expected to have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the number of students who drive to campus and increasing the number who take the bus as part of their daily commute.

“We’d like to really try to increase ridership from almost nothing now to at least ten percent,” Bomotti said. “If you can take 3,000 cars off the roads coming and going from campus, maybe you’re starting to make some real improvement there.”

“We hope to create an urban campus that is environmentally friendly and accessible,” Wixom said. “In order to reduce the number of automobiles on campus we need to improve our mass transit system.”

UNLV hopes to continue to leverage funding to make more improvements. The university will return to the Board of Regents in early September with a land lease and design for approval by the board.

Contact Nolan Lister at [email protected]

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