A $300,000 consultant was hired by Civic Center officials Monday to redesign the downtown Novato transit center.
Mark Thomas & Co. of Walnut Creek will handle "architectural, engineering, final design and public involvement" work for the project.
Seven consultants bid for the job, but a team of staffers from various agencies selected Mark Thomas for reasons including work experience.
The Marin County Transit District board approved the move after Supervisor Susan Adams pulled it from a consent calendar of routine business to inquire about the overall tab, saying she needed a "sense of a price tag of what it will cost."
The project could top roughly $3 million, although solid estimates appear elusive pending the consultant's analysis and development of alternative proposals.
Although no one seemed to know for sure where construction money would come from, three agencies will split the $300,000 design consulting tab -- the county, the transit district and the Transportation Authority of Marin. As for construction money, "we will need some help," reported transit chief David Rzepinski.
Adams has questioned financing of the Novato project for months, complaining last summer the proposal was "not fully baked" and balking at pumping money into a program before fiscal details are fleshed out. But the project has moved ahead with strong support from Supervisors Judy Arnold and Steve Kinsey and other transit officials.
project, which officials hope can be pared down from a $3.6 million rehabilitation program proposed earlier, is aimed at improving bus patron access, transit transfers and pedestrian and bicycle safety at the transit facility at Redwood Boulevard and Grant Avenue. Rzepinski said improvements could include extension of the bus platforms, improvement of pedestrian sight lines, provision of a new bus bypass lane and other upgrades.
The need for the Novato project was noted in a $75,000 consulting report by Moore & Associates, which surveyed 1,100 transit users to determine needs. The consultant recommended a host of relatively inexpensive route changes but concluded that longer term, more than $5 million in capital improvements were needed -- the bulk of the expense to pay for a downtown transit hub.
The Moore & Associates reported indicated Novato will add 1,200 residents by 2035, when the city will account for about 29 percent of the jobs available in Marin.
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