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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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STA Plaza showing off its new look

Bus riders at the Spokane Transit Authority Plaza downtown said they like the newly finished interior remodeling because it brings new conveniences and expanded waiting areas.

And they are pleased the design reincorporated two bronze cougars with new artwork in the $5 million remodel, which is nearly completed.

The Sprague Avenue windows and doors have been expanded to provide better views of arriving buses and loading areas from inside.

New real-time electronic displays let riders know when their buses will arrive and leave.

A large map of the STA system is mounted on the south elevator wall to help riders navigate to various parts of the STA service area.

“It’s much better,” said Harley Webster, who was waiting for the No. 60 bus in the new Sprague Avenue waiting area equipped with plug-ins for mobile devices.

Riders can see all of the bus loading areas from inside the waiting area.

Webster’s only complaint: There are too few stalls in the women’s restroom.

Restrooms were relocated to the Wall Street side from the second floor. The remodel included new ceiling treatments and flooring.

Arielle Munro said, “I like it. It’s a lot prettier.”

She was waiting for her No. 43 bus with a friend, Brandon Hill, and both were eating slices of Pizza Rita pizza.

They said moving the pizza outlet to the main floor next to the existing Subway sandwich shop is a big convenience. They said they can munch away and watch for the next bus.

They said they prefer the improved views of the main floor, which were opened by moving the diagonal escalators to the south wall and removing a waterfall.

“Having so much open space lets the air circulate,” Hill said.

“Efficiency-wise it is better,” he said. “I do miss the waterfall.”

Artist Ken Spiering, who sculpted the cougars for the Plaza opening in 1995, consulted on the design of the new artwork on the east side of the elevators.

The cougars are mounted on separate pedestals.

Spiering’s interpretation of the new art, which is displayed on a sign near the work, says, “The two-story backdrop of trailing LED lights give a stylistic nod to the original waterfalls and positions the cougars for better interaction with their many fans.”

But gold-colored cougar paw prints were reimbedded into the new flooring.

STA officials said the waterfall contributed to noise problems inside the Plaza because people would raise their voices to be heard over the cascades.

As a result, the water was turned off during the Plaza’s busiest hours to keep noise levels down, STA spokesman Brandon Rapez-Betty said.

Customer service was moved to the main floor. It is joined with the security desk below the escalators.

Karl Otterstrom, STA director of planning, said the open design helps security and staff watch for trouble.

Two new bus pass machines are being installed. There are also two change machines so riders can get the exact fare.

Joe’s Mini-Mart is moving to the first floor later this spring.

Metro PCS has a first-floor kiosk.

The second-floor rotunda space was enclosed with glass walls and doors and will be used in the future for community events, job fairs or art shows.

The skywalk route passes next to the upper rotunda on the second-floor balcony.

Several administrative functions and the mobility training center still are on the second floor.

Vacant space may be available in the future for office leases, but not for retail, Otterstrom said.

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