It was an unusual scene downtown Monday, even for Las Vegas.
BMX stuntmen flew off ramps and twirled their bikes midair, women in short shorts scooted around on roller skates, percussionists pounded away on hubcaps and ladders. A man stood wrapped in a massive python and Mayor Oscar Goodman stood sans show girls.
Passersby probably wondered what the hubbub was all about and probably never would have guessed that this gathering was to celebrate the completion of the Regional Transportation Commission's $17 million Bonneville Transit Center, which will open at the corner of Bonneville Avenue and City Center Drive on Nov. 7.
"I've done a number of these things, never with pythons and roller girls," said Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.
The new environmentally friendly facility will serve as the central hub for 16 bus routes, including the Deuce, MAX, the Centennial Hills Express, and the Strip and Downtown Express. It will be the drop-off point for upcoming express services from Boulder Highway and in Summerlin, where, beginning next month, residents can take a nonstop ride from the park-and-ride station at Durango Drive and Summerlin Parkway.
The building also reflects the transportation commission's push to get commuters out of their vehicles. It accommodates bicyclists; a secured room holds 100 bikes and offers repairs. The 20,000-square-foot facility also offers showers.
"It really is kind of a breathtaking facility," Rogoff said. "It's a game-changer for transit services."
Politicians credited President Barack Obama's stimulus package for allowing the transportation commission to build the downtown station.
U.S. Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dina Titus, both D-Nev., voted in favor of the president's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which contributed $5.5 million in funding to the transit center. Berkley said the word "stimulus" has since become a dirty, polarizing word in the political arena, but added that without the package, the 1,200 workers who built the facility probably would have been unemployed.
"We're having a tough time right now, but we'll come back," she said.
"Next time you hear someone say it failed, bring them down to this facility," Titus said. "There are some things the government does very, very well."
The project was built to meet the specifications of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification, said Jacob Snow, general manager of the transportation commission. Ninety percent of the materials collected during the destruction of existing structures and preparation for construction were incorporated into the project. Solar panels are installed on the roof, and the building is lit mostly by natural light.
Snow added that the transit center is a key piece in the city's efforts to revive downtown Las Vegas.
"It's central to what is going on here in downtown Las Vegas," he said.
Contact reporter Adrienne Packer at email@example.com or 702-387-2904.