WILKES-BARRE -- A big vacant site in Wilkes-Barre may soon become the new home of the Luzerne County Transportation Authority. The authority wants to buy the Murray Complex near downtown Wilkes-Barre, and if it does, it could bring more bus runs with it.
Moving the transportation authority to the old Murray Complex in Wilkes-Barre will give the transportation authority room to grow. It's also within walking distance to several big neighborhoods, and it will clean up a long-blighted site.
The 14-acre site in Wilkes-Barre may soon be a bus terminal, garage, and administrative complex for the Luzerne County Transportation Authority.
"It's very exciting for us," said LCTA executive director Norm Gavlick. "We're always looking to be able to do the next thing, do the next step, expand services."
Transportation officials say their current location on Northampton Street in Kingston just does not have the room needed to support more buses, and because it's landlocked, the transportation authority cannot expand there, either. But the Murray Complex on Pennsylvania Avenue and Wilkes-Barre Boulevard in Wilkes-Barre has plenty of room.
"It will allow us the opportunity to start looking to expand routes, consider expanding Saturday services, consider expanding night services, because then we'll have the capacity to do all of that," Gavlick said.
The LCTA also has a long-term plan for the Murray Complex. Since it's close to railroad tracks that run to Lackawanna County, the move could mean a possible future connection to passenger trains between the two counties.
The LCTA is a tax-exempt organization, so if the move happens, Wilkes-Barre won't get the property back on its tax rolls, but it will bring 175 jobs at the facility into Wilkes-Barre.
"It's going to be a plus for the city," said city administrator Ted Wampole. "It's going to make it look better. We're bringing people to downtown that would be here to work and shop and eat here to work. We're happy about that."
There are two companies that own the land that the LCTA wants to buy. We reached out to them but have not yet heard back.
Before anything is final, an environmental study needs to be done.
Officials say that while talks are in the very early stages, they hope to be at the Murray Complex site in about two years.