Company presents possible projects to unite campus, downtown Kent

Kelly Pickerel

University looks to transportation to bring business

TranSystems, a transportation consulting service, presented possible multimodal facility projects for Kent last night at a meeting supported by the Office of the University Architect. According to the proposal, a parking garage and bus stop could be built downtown that could also hold retail stores, government offices, day cares and other possible businesses.

“We want to connect the campus with the downtown area,” said Michael Harrington, a transportation engineer for TranSystems. “A parking garage and bus stop could benefit commuter students. Also, with a direct transportation system, more people would be drawn downtown. Businesses could improve.”

TranSystems’ main goal is to build a facility that doesn’t look like a parking garage or bus station.

Multiple examples were presented at the meeting, including three examples from Minnesota that were labeled as “what we don’t want,” Harrington said.

“We want something that blends into the community,” he said. “We could work with the historical downtown atmosphere.”

Doron Kutash, a master’s student graduating in May, is involved with Main Street Kent, a group looking to improve the downtown area. Kutash attended the meeting to start exploring his future.

“I want to be more involved with Kent after graduation, so I thought I should start looking into it now,” he said.

He also said that the multimodal TranSystems project would be beneficial to Kent.

“In Main Street Kent, we talk about transportation and how downtown Kent doesn’t seem to be getting enough business,” he said. “Should we work on more housing or support a transportation system?”

He said the proposed transportation system would work well with the downtown area.

“This great transportation system will bring traffic to downtown businesses (and) those in the facility like the coffee shops and day cares. There are a lot of benefits,” he said.

Lori Keyser, senior traffic engineer for TranSystems, began mapping traffic routes last month. She said she noticed the high traffic on Main and Lincoln streets.

“This project will bring more traffic,” she said. “We’re looking at the best ways to reroute traffic.”

One option is to revamp Haymaker Parkway and Depeyster Street. That option may be not likely, said Harrington, because it’s difficult to redirect a state route.

TranSystems plans on working with the city to figure out options and start proposing grants. The group also hopes to find a way that neither the campus nor the city will have to pay for the project. Federal grants will be helpful, Harrington said.

Kutash said he thinks the multimodal system will improve the residential component of Kent.

“I can see (this project) is very valuable to any downtown, especially one with a campus,” he said.

Contact news correspondent Kelly Pickerel at [email protected].