SU to build $4.3 million green transportation center downtown

A new transportation center offering charging stations for electric cars will be built downtown near Syracuse Universities Center of Excellence. 
Plans to build the $4.3 million transportation center next to the Syracuse Center of Excellence building downtown were announced Tuesday by Syracuse Universities Office of Planning, Design and Construction. The center will also serve as a Centro bus stop and a place to store bicycles.
The design is focused on innovative environmentally sustainable features, said Eric Beattie, director of SUs Office of Planning, Design and Construction.
The project will be funded through a combination of government aid and university expenditures. A federal grant from the Department of Transportation will pay for 80 percent, and the rest will come from SUs capital projects budget, Beattie said.
Planned features for the center include solar power, accommodations for bicycles, charging stations for electric vehicles and a rain garden to prevent storm water runoff from entering the municipal sewer system. A bus shelter and stop on the Connective Corridor bus route will also be added, and parking for commuters will be provided.
The building will be open to the public and wont be SU-exclusive, Beattie said. The project is important because it solves area parking and commuting problems and will serve as a transportation link to the surrounding neighborhoods, he said.
Designing the project began in summer 2009, and the final design approval is anticipated for spring 2011, Beattie said. Final landscaping touches should be completed by 2012, he said. Erdy McHenry Architects of Philadelphia and Syracuse firm OBrien and Gere are designing the center.
The Syracuse Center of Excellence building, located downtown at 727 E. Washington St., was officially opened March 5. The building features laboratory and office space to research and promote a green lifestyle, including geothermal heat, solar panels and carpet made from recycled materials. SU and the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry are both partners.
Some SU students said they considered the transportation center a good idea on the universities behalf, but they said they believe the effects will be more beneficial to the city than directly to SU.
Justina Rose, a sophomore civil engineering major, said the transportation center is a positive development in the areas attempt to go green, as are Centro buses running on bio-diesel, hybrid and compressed natural gas buses.
Jessica Afriyie, a freshman marketing major, said SUs green initiative has encouraged her to adopt thoughtful habits like recycling. She said the new transportation center is another positive move for SU.
I think thats a great thing for the school to do. Everyone is aware of the effect of pollution and we have to be proactive, Afriyie said.
She had concerns about the cost of the new building, but because it is funded mostly by a state grant and will promote green technology, she said she is not that worried.
I think its worth it, Afriyie said. As of now it looks like its crazy, but in the long run well be saving more money.
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