MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — As the trees come down, it won’t be long before over five acres of land off New Salem Highway are developed into Murfreesboro’s first ever transit center.

“I can’t think of a better service that we’re going to be able to provide now…that we get people to their jobs,” said Mayor Shane McFarland.

On Friday morning, McFarland and other city leaders gathered together to usher in this new facility that will cost $17.1 million.

The city of Murfreesboro was awarded $9 million in Tennessee Improve Acts funds in three separate awards from the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).

The city provided $2.8 million from the 2019 and 2022 Capital Improvement Program to match the funds.

Federal funding for the project is more than $5 million.

An administration building and bus maintenance building, as well as a passenger pavilion will be built on site.

Assistant Director of Transportation Russell Brashear said it will be a much needed upgrade compared to the space passengers currently use off Burton and Walnut streets.

“It catapults our desire to grow transit services in the city of Murfreesboro,” he said.

Brashear said they are working to improve ridership that dropped significantly during the pandemic.

“Our service ran kind of stagnant for a few years, and we’re just trying to bring it up to standards and modern transit service,” he said.

Along with this new center, Nashville’s public transit system WeGo is also looking to build a park and ride nearby for their regional buses.

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“We’ve been fortunate over the past few years that the city’s hosted us at the city parks, but frankly that’s not a good long term solution,” said CEO Stephen Bland. “So to be able to build an integrated park and ride facility within the Murfreesboro transit site is really going to give people some terrific options to move around.”

As this new center gets closer to becoming a reality, city leaders hope it’ll push more people into using public transportation.

The city said the new transit center should be completed in the next 18 months.