Intermodal transportation center benefits Champaign

You've been hearing talk for several months about the city of Quincy possibly building a new transportation hub, or transit "intermodal" terminal.

Right now, the city is studying the best way to gather all ground transportation, like city and Trailways buses, cabs and train service, under one roof.

The state already has allocated six million dollars to pay for it.

We were curious how a transportation hub works and how it could benefit the city.

So KHQA traveled to the first true intermodal transportation center in the state, located in Champaign, to find out firsthand.

We found that every day is a bustling day at the Illinois terminal in Champaign. This intermodal transportation center is the hub for not only the city's mass transit service, but also for Amtrak, taxis and intercity bus lines.

Two to three thousand travelers pass through this facility on a daily basis...even more on Fridays and weekends.

But it wasn't always like this. Before its construction and opening back in 1999, this area was an empty lot and former tank farm...a real eyesore for the city. Now that's been transformed into a welcoming portal for visitors and residents of Champaign..

Adam Shanks, Illinois Terminal Building Manager said, "It makes it much easier for people to use transportation, having a central hub like this helps."

We have people coming in on a train on intercity cabs and intracity buses. Bringing these all together gives people options on how and where they were to go.

Folks in Champaign tell me the construction of the Illinois terminal is the beginning of the downtown's revitalization. Now people come downtown on evenings and weekends.

Tom Costello is the Assistant Managing Director of the Champaign Urbana Mass Transit District. He says this project wasn't a hole-in-one. It was 15 years in the making.

Costello said, "We joked that it was an overnight success, but it was not. We had some people who said, 'why do we need this?' Others say, 'tell me more'...and others were four-square in favor. We had to bring those people all together to accomplish what we did."

This building cost taxpayers $12 million back in 1999 - a combination of federal, state and local money. And like in Quincy, city leaders also were concerned about ongoing operation costs. That's why when the facility was built, designers included space to lease out for cash. The Illinois Terminal now houses a Subway restaurant, a state senator's office and an alternative school on the third floor. The top floor you see here is rented out for wedding receptions and parties, complete with a view of downtown Champaign.

Combine that with leased space from transportation providers, and the Illinois terminal is almost totally self-supporting.

Costello said, "They say success has a thousand fathers and failure dies alone. There aren't a lot of people claiming today that this was a bad idea."

The city of Normal is building its intermodal transportation center right now.