JANESVILLE, Wis. - Lines formed around the building as the city of Janesville unveiled its new state-of-the-art transit service center, a facility 12 years in the making.
"We really operate a regional transit service here that's grown immeasurably within the last decade, so the facility that supports it had to grow with it," said Janesville city transit Director Dave Mumma.
City officials celebrated the new $7.9 million building with a dedication ceremony, open house and free bus rides for the public. Federal grants supplied $6.6 million, and the remaining cost was covered by the city of Janesville.
City officials said the 43,200-square-foot center, located off Highway 51 on Black Bridge Road, was designed to serve the community for the next 50 years.
Along with an increase of 22,000 square feet compared to the previous Parker Drive facility, the center will be the new home for 17 buses, administrative offices, five maintenance bays and a handful of other amenities the former center was unable to provide.
Although the high price tag has been a concern for some residents, Mumma said the upgrades were a necessity with over 430,000 residents who rely on the bus services annually.
"The Janesville today is not the Janesville that existed in 1980, and we have a much higher proportion of low-income residents. People who need to get to job training, who need to get to jobs that are not necessarily in Janesville anymore," he said.
Visitors who toured the new facility Wednesday said they feel it was money well spent.
"It's good to see where our bus fare is going, where our tax money goes. We can complain all we want, but if we come out here and see, we know where it's going," regular bus rider Charlie Juric said.
Although the cost of the building has been a topic of controversy throughout the project, neighbors across the street said they have other concerns.
Don Cullen has owned property across from the new site for the past 12 years and said since the new transit center has been under construction, storm water runoff from the center has started to damage his property.
"It's doing damage to the building, it's washing out under the building. Nobody wants a river coming through their property," Cullen said.
Cullen blames the runoff on the new detention pond the city dug on the side of the new transit center. City officials admit the new center required them to link an overflow drainpipe from the site into an old 1930s culvert that empties onto his property, but said the system was designed to handle the flow of water before homes were in the area.
"It's possible the pipe might have been plugged and now with our work it is bringing water that maybe he didn't get before, but it's water that should've been going there all along," Janesville Director of Public Works Paul Woodard said.
The culvert that empties onto Cullen's property runs through 15 acres, however, the city only owns two of those acres.
Woodard said the city is meeting with Cullen, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and Rock County officials Tuesday to discuss a solution.
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