Commuters disembark a bus at Pickering Square in Bangor. Credit: Bridget Brown

A years-long conversation about whether the terminal for Bangor’s public bus system should remain in Pickering Square could soon come to an end.

Municipal staff have put together a proposal for building a new bus terminal in Pickering Square that the City Council is due to discuss at a workshop meeting in January and then vote on at another regular meeting shortly afterward.

The proposal, which was developed by the city’s engineering department, would place the new terminal in a recessed area parallel to Water Street that doesn’t currently exist.

It would include a small building and covered waiting area on an island right along Water Street, and a new set of lanes just inside the square that would allow buses to pull alongside the island, according to a concept that project engineer Jeff Davis presented during a council meeting on Monday night.

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In the next few weeks, councilors will decide whether they approve of locating the terminal in that general section of Pickering Square. Before voting on the proposal, they will hold a workshop for members of the public who want to comment on it.

The terminal was previously located at the entrance of the nearby parking garage, but the city moved it early in the summer because of a renovation that relocated the entrance to the parking garage to make that area safer for pedestrians. A temporary terminal is now in place along a different section of the square.

By moving all the bus activity to the southern edge of Pickering Square, it would allow the city to do more landscaping around the rest of the square to make it safer and more appealing as a gathering space, according to Davis.

Four councilors who attended the meeting on Monday night specifically said they supported the proposed location: Council Chairperson Clare Davitt and councilors Sarah Nichols, Gretchen Schaefer and Laura Supica.

“I’m actually really excited about this,” Nichols said.

Councilor Dan Tremble said he looks forward to hearing more from the public and has heard from constituents who are worried that having buses there could make it harder to use the rest of Pickering Square for musical performances and other events.

Two transportation reports that the city has ordered over the last decade have recommended that the bus terminal remain in Pickering Square.

One of them, which was done by Tom Crinkelair Associates in 2014, recommended that the hub be located in that particular section of the square. Another study earlier this year by Stantec, which considered how to improve ridership on the Community Connector transit system, did not single out a specific area, but also recommended Pickering Square as the hub’s location.

The city has recently been awarded $1.29 million in federal funds to help it replace the bus terminal.

On Monday night, city staff also said that they will try to begin a project to replace the pedestrian bridge over Kenduskeag Stream in the coming year. John Theriault, the city engineer, said it could take until 2022 for all the Pickering Square projects to be completed.