Buses arrive at Pickering Square to pick up a few passengers on April 6. Social distancing due to the COVID-19 outbreak significantly reduced traffic in downtown Bangor. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Bangor’s city council on Monday chose one of several designs for a new transit hub to be built in Pickering Square next year, taking another step toward replacing an old bus terminal that was removed more than a year ago.

The council’s decision came three months after it selected Artifex Architects and Engineers as the lead designers on the project.

Artifex, formerly known as Ames Associates, presented the council with three different floor plans for the hub. At the council’s Monday evening workshop, councilors opted to select the first floor plan design, a building with a large outdoor waiting area with a canopy covering, the least expensive of the three options, but which provides more covered outdoor space for bus riders. There are further options to install heated sidewalks along the waiting area and bus stops, and to install solar panels on the roof.

The front entrance to the new hub will face the building at One Merchants Plaza, where the Bangor Daily News is located, while the rear entrance will face Key Bank Plaza. Buses will stop on either side of the building in diagonal spots, from which each bus can pull out of without having to wait behind other buses in a line.

Artifex will submit a final design for the hub for council approval in January. Construction work is expected to begin in the spring.

The construction of a new transit hub has been a project nearly nine years in the making, marked by long-running debates about where it should be located within the city. As recently as January, the City Council weighed proposals to move it from Pickering Square to other locations around the city, but the council ultimately supported keeping it in the square.

The new hub is part of a large-scale remodel of Pickering Square. In 2019, work was completed on a project to redesign the Merchant’s Plaza area, and in spring of this year, the old footbridge across the Kenduskeag Stream was removed to make way for a new steel truss bridge. The Willard C. Orr Footbridge was supposed to reopen by Thanksgiving of this year, but according to city engineer John Theriault, pandemic-related shipping delays have postponed the installation of the last components of the new bridge until January.

In November 2019, the city was awarded $1.29 million in federal funds to replace the old bus terminal that used to be in the nearby downtown parking garage, but was permanently closed in the summer of 2019 for a renovation that changed the location of the garage’s entrance. A temporary bus hub is now in Pickering Square, but it lacks a heated shelter or a functioning bathroom.

Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.