New parking structure in works for Santa Fe Depot

An $8 million project to build a new parking structure next to the Santa Fe Depot will double the amount of parking around the city's Metrolink stop, offering another boost to the area's public transportation push, officials said.
The contractor, Anaheim Hills-based Bomel Construction, is expected to employ 120 people over some 14 months to build the three-and-one-half story building.

The future parking structure is designed to give rail commuters 350 more parking spaces.

That's about the same number of spaces already available in the depot's lot and along surrounding streets for the roughly 950 people who board Metrolink trains daily from the location, said Deborah Barmack, executive director of San Bernardino Associated Governments.

"We load out more people at this station than any other Metrolink station accessing Los Angeles," San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris said.

The site of the future parking structure on Tuesday was little more than a dirt lot where construction workers maneuvered a grader and other heavy equipment.

The Santa Fe Depot is but one place in the city where the pro-mass transit Morris foresees long-term growth in the number of San Bernardino residents using busses and trains to get to work.

Morris is also a backer of Omnitrans' plan to build a multimodal station downtown near the crossing of Rialto Avenue and E Street. Omnitrans plans to use that station as a connecting spot for Metrolink, local busses and the planned sbX bus line, which is being designed as a high-speed route linking San Bernardino and Loma Linda.

The parking structure is a joint project involving the city and San Bernardino Associated Governments. The work is being financed with state and federal money, Barmack said.

The $8 million figure includes the cost of construction and nearby street improvements, and was initially expected to be much higher.

In 2005, officials expected the project to cost about $12 million, but estimates dropped as the economy itself fell from the high-prices of the housing boom.

"We've seen a dramatic decline in both materials and labor since then," city engineer Robert Eisenbeisz said.
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