After touring Ithaca Commons with Mayor Svante Myrick and Ithaca community and business leaders, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced her support for federal funding for transit upgrades. Senator Gillibrand is urging the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to fund the City of Ithaca's request for federal investments to rebuild Ithaca Commons as a community transit hub that would support a more efficient bus route between local colleges and universities and downtown, as well as encourage clean energy transportation initiatives with the addition of bike share facilities and electric vehicle charging stations.
"Investing in transportation infrastructure is one of the fastest, most effective ways to create jobs now, and lay the foundation for more jobs tomorrow," Senator Gillibrand said. "A fresh face for Ithaca Commons and building a new transit corridor with more choices for travelers has the potential to connect more of our workers, students and businesses, support job creation and help attract new businesses to get Ithaca's economy on the move, while getting more cars off our roads to help protect the air we breathe and the water we drink."
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick said, "We are thankful for the Senator's support. The Senator understands that transforming our transportation infrastructure is good for our environment, it's good for the people who live and work in our community, and it's good for the small businesses that will benefit from increased access and will finally begin to take the advantage back from the national chain stores."
"The reconstruction of the Ithaca Commons and the creation of enhanced transit corridors from Downtown to Cornell and eventually Ithaca College are key components of our 2020 Downtown Development Strategy," Executive Director of Downtown Ithaca Alliance, Gary Ferguson said. "Together these transportation infrastructure improvements will act as catalysts for well over $100 million in new downtown housing and commercial development. That's a tremendous boost for Ithaca and for upstate New York."
Specifically, Ithaca is applying for funding through DOT's State of Good Repair Grant Program and DOT's Bus and Bus Facilities Livability Initiative Grant Program. Funds would be used to update the transit system to meet a growing demand for service. The upgrades would include a rapid bus transit loop between downtown Ithaca and Cornell University while adding bike share facilities and electric vehicle charging stations. The improvements would also include real-time arrival information through smart phone apps or on the internet.
In her letters to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood, Senator Gillibrand wrote, "The transit hub in downtown Ithaca is essential to the region's transportation system. On a daily basis, the students of Cornell University, Ithaca College, and Tompkins County Community College, as well as 64,000 workers employed in Tompkins County, depend on the transit hub buses to get to work or around town."