The Galveston Intermodal Transit Committee on Wednesday voted unanimously to adopt a resolution recommending to the Galveston City Council that funds from the sale of the Shearn Moody Plaza parking garage be designated for downtown for projects related to the Livable Communities Initiative.
John Carrara, a representative of The Goodman Corporation, said the city is in discussions with the high bidder in the sale of the garage. Carrara said the bidder, the Port of Galveston, had offered a “very high price” for the garage, higher than the appraised value of the facility.
“Since it appears there's going to be twice as much money as they expected to get out of that sale, it would be nice to have that money stay downtown,” he said.
Committee Vice Chair Lesley Sommer asked what impact the port's purchase of the garage would have on access needed for the planned downtown transit center. Carrara answered that access for the project was a condition of the sale.
“If these conditions are not met, this sale will not go through,” he said.
Carrara also reported that the city council will discuss the facilities agreement, which he said is the master document between the city and Mitchell Properties for development of the transit terminal and parking garage.
Lila Zuniga presented the Island Transit Ridership Report. Ridership on the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston shuttle increased from 5,547 in August 2010 to 5,583 August of this year. Ridership from the Mall of the Mainland increased from 2,902 to 4,012.
Total ridership has increased from 58,599 in August of 2010 to 61,111 in 2011.
During the discussion of the update, the committee discussed the need to adjust the routes.
Carrara said that the city council has discussed deferring adjustments to the routes until the location of new public housing has been determined. Sommer said he had heard concerns from residents about the need for adjusting the bus routes. Other members of the board also said the need was pressing.
“We need to assess the situation now,” Committee Member Kathy Modzelewski said.
Assistant City Engineer Andrew Gallagher provided an update on the designation of a right-turn lane at the Westbound feeder road of Interstate Highway 45 at 61st Street. Gallagher said that a contract had been bid and bids receive on several projects, which included the turn lane, and that work was expected to begin in three-to-four weeks.
An update on a traffic count investigation related to two-way stop signs in the downtown area was not given due to Mike Dricks, with the Traffic Division, not being present. Gallagher said he would relay information from Dricks regarding the matter.
The committee discussed the issue of how to fill in “sidewalk gaps” in residential neighborhoods.
Gallagher reported that city regulations states that the property owner of land abutting a street is required to install and maintain sidewalks. He said city council action is required to direct the city to conduct sidewalk repairs and assess costs to be charged to the property owner.
“I would be amazed if any sitting council would do that to a citizen of Galveston,” Sommer said of the issue.
During the public comment period, Rod Palmer of Bus Bench Advertising spoke to the committee concerning the possibility of advertisements on bus benches. Palmer said his company provides benches at bus stops without cost in exchange for placing advertisements on the benches.
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The committee voted unanimously to approve the minutes of the August 17 meeting.
No other action was taken during the meeting. Committee Chair James Casey, Jeffrey Nielsen and Jeff Brown were not present.