Big Federal Grant Kickstarts New Eau Claire Transit Center

Tom Giffey

Image: City of Eau Claire, click for a closer look
Image: City of Eau Claire | Click for a closer look

The City of Eau Claire has caught a TIGER by the tail – and that’s a good thing. The city will receive a $5 million federal grant to build a new transit center in downtown Eau Claire, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind announced this week. The funding comes via the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program. Winning the grant, which the city applied for last fall, is quite an achievement: Only about 6 percent of communities that apply get the funding.

The city hopes to use the money to jumpstart long standing plans to replace the bus transfer center on South Farwell Street, which is little more than a cinder-block shack that was meant to be temporary when it was built in 1985. 

The city hopes to use the money to jumpstart long standing plans to replace the bus transfer center on South Farwell Street, which is little more than a cinder-block shack that was meant to be temporary when it was built in 1985. The city’s current concept is to build a $21 million, seven-story structure on the current site in the 400 block of South Farwell. As of last fall, the city planned to put in $1.25 million of its own funds, with the rest of the project’s cost being covered by a private developer. While most of the $5 million grant will go toward the building, some funds will be used to purchase four more buses for the city.

“Eau Claire’s busy and constantly expanding downtown is a magnet for small businesses, tourism, and outdoor recreation,” Kind, D-La Crosse, said in a news release. “I am excited to announce that Eau Claire has received this very competitive grant, and look forward to watching the new transit center help Eau Claire area businesses and commuters connect with the community.”

Basic site concept from the new downtown Eau Claire bus transfer center, to be built on its current location on S. Farwell Street. (Image: City of Eau Claire, click for a closer look)
Basic site concept from the new downtown Eau Claire bus transfer center, to be built on its current location on S. Farwell Street. (Image: City of Eau Claire | Click for a closer look)

“Our booming downtown and growing city looks forward to the addition of a new transit transfer center in downtown,” City Manager Dale Peters added. “The city is very excited to receive this grant, which will allow us to improve the public transportation system for those who rely on the service in Eau Claire.”

In a news release, U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., congratulated the city on the grant, and said she had worked last summer to restore funding for TIGER and other infrastructure programs which had been cut from a transportation spending bill by President Donald Trump.

In addition to the transfer center, the building would include underground parking, ground-floor commercial space, and apartments.

To learn more about the project, which could be underway as early as next year, see the next issue of Volume One.

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