Cherriots is renewing an effort to build a south Salem transit hub to serve the growing area without forcing riders to detour through downtown (Ron Cooper/Salem Reporter)

A parcel of land along Southeast Commercial Street may be the future home of a transit hub for south Salem.

The Salem Area Mass Transit District, commonly known as Cherriots, has identified three possible sites for the project following an evaluation by Parametrix, a Portland-based engineering and planning company, according to a June 23 memo by Stephen Dickey, the agency’s director of technology and program management.

All three are located along a half-mile stretch of Southeast Commercial Street in the South Gateway neighborhood. They are:

-The southwest corner of Fabry Road Southeast and Commercial Street Southeast

-The northwest corner of Wiltsey Road Southeast and Commercial Street Southeast

-The northeast corner of Wiltsey Road Southeast and Commercial Street Southeast

“It is important to note that the inclusion of these sites in the study does not mean that development is inevitable, but that they scored the highest in the feasibility for development according to the study,” Dickey’s memo said.

The Cherriots Board of Directors will consider moving forward with the three sites at their Thursday meeting. 

A south Salem transit hub has been a goal for the agency for years. The last attempt stalled in 2019 when Cherriots couldn't reach a deal with Walmart to build in the parking lot of its Southeast Commercial Street store.

The hub is intended to make local bus service more efficient, serving the growing south Salem area by allowing riders to connect or change routes without having to travel to the downtown transit center.

It would also allow Cherriots to offer bus routes directly to high-traffic sites like the Amazon center off Highway 22 southeast of the city, Cherriots general manager Allan Pollack previously told Salem Reporter.

“I’m optimistic, but there’s still a lot yet to be done,” said Ian Davidson, board chair, on identifying the three sites.

Parametrix evaluated potential sites by assessing all properties within the south Salem area where Cherriots hopes to build the center and eliminating any that could not support a transit center because they were too small, zoned for single family residential or valued over $5 million, according to the report.

Three finalist sites were identified for a Cherriots south Salem transit hub in a June 2022 report by Portland construction engineering firm Parametrix.

That left 16 sites that were either single parcels or could be assembled from multiple land parcels for evaluation. Those properties were scored based on criteria including likely costs for development, efficiency of transit operations, and whether any existing facilities would need to be relocated, the report said.

If the board votes to accept the recommendations, Cherriots staff would further evaluate the three locations for feasibility, with the goal of having the board select a final site later this summer. Then, Cherriots would begin negotiations with the property owners.

The report presented to the board did not include cost estimates for any of the three sites.

It’s likely a transit center would take several years to develop, and Cherriots doesn’t yet have funding secured for a project. Pollack and Davidson previously said new federal funding heading to the agency through the infrastructure bill Congress passed in November could provide one source of funds.

To participate: The Cherriots Board meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Senator Hearing Room at Courthouse Square, 555 Court Street N.E. Members of the public may sign up to provide testimony live at the meeting in-person or via Zoom. View the agenda here and watch a livestream here or on CC:Media, channel 21.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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