VALPARAISO | The success of the ChicaGo Dash is forcing the city to find a new location for the transportation station and parking lot.
The city's Board of Public Works and Safety approved a contract Thursday with American Structurepoint to identify potential sites in the downtown area that could be developed as a transportation oriented district. The TOD could include parking, the station and residential and commercial development, said Tyler Kent, planning director.
When the Dash service started, it was thought the 112 parking spaces in the lot next to the Franklin House at Lincolnway and Campbell Street would be enough, Kent said. Since then the city added parking spaces on Lincolnway and on Indiana Avenue.
"Those are being occupied, so it's been a success," Kent said. "We want to see the Dash grow and development grow. We are open for any suggestions, but we want to see continued growth and investment in the downtown."
He said the consultant will provide recommendations on several possible sites along with the type of development that could accompany it and how much parking should be provided. They will develop conceptual plans and drawings that will be aired at a public meeting.
Mayor Jon Costas said, "Success creates its own set of problems. The Dash has been very successful, and it has outgrown the facility. It is a growing transportation system, and we need to make sure the next location meets the needs into the future and fits with our downtown plans and complements the other aspects of the downtown."
The study will cost $38,500 with the funding coming from the Dash's budget. Weekday ridership on the express commuter service to Chicago's Loop has been averaging close to 100 each way but set a new high in April with 4,674 riders for an average of 106.2. The city added a fourth bus to the service April 1.
"I think the numbers justify the addition of the fourth bus and the need for the new TOD," Kent said. "The study will find a larger area for the growth of the Dash and our efforts for redevelopment in the downtown."