AUBURN — A downtown bus station could be completed this fall, according to City Manager Clinton Deschene.

Deschene and other Auburn officials met with representatives from the Federal Transit Administration on Tuesday to update them on the status of the planned Spring Street bus station.

The city hopes to build the 1,500-foot station on a trapezoid-shaped plot at the southwest corner of Spring and Drummond streets that would be leased from the adjacent Hannaford supermarket.

Deschene said the city and the Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee are working on designs for the station and negotiating a lease with Hannaford.

“We’re working toward a fall completion,” Deschene said. “There is an agreement and understanding that until those leases are in hand and the final design is approved, it’s hard to set a construction schedule. If they get delayed, it pushes back the construction schedule.”

The deal would finish a 12-year process to build an Auburn companion to Lewiston’s Oak Street bus station. The station would be small, with room for a warm seating area, driver restrooms and possibly space for a small retail operation.

The Lewiston-Auburn Transit Committee was given a $250,000 grant from the Federal Transit Administration in 2002 to build a bus station in Auburn. Original plans put the station alongside a proposed Great Falls Plaza garage in the parking lot near the Auburn Esplanade and Hilton Garden Inn.

That garage was not built, however, and the transit committee moved the hub for Auburn’s bus traffic to Spring Street, near Hannaford.

Deschene said the current plan fits best with the development of Auburn’s downtown and transportation needs.

“We are talking about transportation coming into the Lewiston-Auburn area from Portland and how the Spring Street area coordinates well with that and the region’s long-term transportation needs,” Deschene said. “Whether it’s busing, rail or just passenger cars, the area we are looking at is viewed as a hub.”

It would be a good stop for a proposed commuter bus service between Portland, the Twin Cities and beyond.

“Access to Route 4, for example, is important because it’s a core of the commuter system for the two cities, outside of the turnpike,” he said. “And it goes without saying, L-A is a gateway to Western Maine.”

The city will use up to $250,000 in Tax Increment Finance money to help pay for the center, in addition to the grant money. That will pay for purchasing the property, building the structure and landscaping.

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