The planned transit center in Keizer includes numerous features aimed at reducing energy consumption and water runoff. Construction starts later this year. (Courtesy PIVOT Architecture)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

A planned transit center in Keizer will be heavy on sustainable features so that, hopefully, the energy bill will be light on the wallet.

Salem-Keizer Transit hosted an open house Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Keizer Chamber of Commerce headquarters at Keizer Station. About $9.6 million in various funds, almost all state and federal grants, are paying for the project. The building itself is about 2,600 square feet.

“We’re excited for this,” said Steve Dickey, the district’s director of transportation development. “We’re looking forward to it being the flagship and we’re excited to be in Keizer.”

The Keizer center will be the first of what will eventually be four transit substations, he said.

It could open as early as the first quarter of 2013, officials said, with groundbreaking in July 2012.

The location, between Lockhaven Drive NE and Keizer Station Boulevard, couldn’t be better for what the district is seeking, said Chad Fosnight, capital projects manager.

“It has accessibility with close proximity to Interstate 5 and rail for potential commuter rail in the future, and Keizer Station,” Fosnight said.

Dickey said the new center fits into the new service model implemented in recent years. With a focus on combining modes of transportation, including transit, walking, bicycling and cars via a park-and-ride on site, Dickey said the center would serve as a nice place to feel safe and comfortable mid-trip.

It will also reduce trips to downtown Salem for riders seeking to go elsewhere in Salem-Keizer, he added.

Routes 4 (express to downtown), 15 (to Chemeketa Community College), 18 (Keizer circulator) and 19 (Lockhaven and River Road to downtown) all will see significant service improvements once the center is complete, Dickey said.

One possible drawback, at least at first, will be that cars will only be able to enter and exit one way in and out of the center – right off of and onto Keizer Station Boulevard.

Fosnight said the cost of a stoplight at the intersection was too high, but could be installed in the future as the surrounding area develops.

Environmentally-friendly features include:

• A green roof. Plants atop the building will absorb water, reducing stormwater runoff during rains, staff said.

“There’s a lot of hard surfaces on this site, and stormwater management was a concern from the start,” Fosnight said.

• Solar panels.

• Electric vehicle charging stations.

• A ground-source heat pump that will hopefully lessen energy costs, Fosnight said.

Allan Pollock, SKT’s general manager, said educational placards will explain the environmentally-friendly aspects of the facility.

“Teachers can bring kids on the bus to learn about sustainability at the center,” Pollock said.