Albany multimodal center gets new life with new grant

Albany Transit has been trying to build a new bus station for nearly 20 years, but now the multimodal transit center has new life. / Mary Green

Albany Transit has been trying to build a new bus station for nearly 20 years, but now the multimodal transit center has new life.

That’s because city commissioners voted Tuesday to accept a GO! Transit grant from the State Road and Tollway Authority worth $1,973,528.

“We’re excited about that,” Transportation Director David Hamilton said. “We were awarded that grant last year, and now, we’re just ready to sign the agreement.”

But that money is just a portion of the overall budget for the project, which is currently $10,585,433.

Federal funds ($4,889,524), state funds ($611,190.50) and the GO! Transit grant combine to account for the majority of the cost.

But that still leaves the city and its taxpayers responsible for $3,111,190.50. Hamilton said $2.5 million of that will come from SPLOST VII, while the remaining $611,190.50 is currently in city reserves.

The plan is to use that money to build the new center in the same spot as the current Albany Transportation Center, on the corner of Oglethorpe and Jackson downtown.

“But a different configuration of how the bus will enter and exit the parking lot,” Hamilton said.

Albany resident Rodney Davis rides the bus daily and said this currently configuration has caused him problems in the past.

“This one is located on a one-way street, and it’s difficult sometimes for the buses to get here, and they’re working on times, and a lot of reasons, that’s why they’re late,” he said.

Past that, there aren’t many definitive plans about what the center will cover.

According to Albany Transit's application for the GO! Transit grant, "In addition to its functionality as the central transfer station for Albany Transit System (ATS) buses, the facility will also house and support dispatch facilities, a driver break area, ATS administration, and will be able to accommodate other potential uses, such as intercity bus, rural transit, taxis, Greyhound transportation, and typical transit oriented and transit-related commercial uses."

Hamilton said the project’s environmental assessment first needs to be approved before they begin the design and construction phases. He added they hope to have that initial step completed by the first quarter of 2018.

That means Davis and his fellow riders will need to wait a little while longer before they see any changes.

“For me, it’s very important because, like I said, I ride the bus daily, and there’s a certain amount of comfort that needs to be added to the bus station. It needs to be larger,” he said.

Hamilton said that ideally, the center would be open by late 2019 or early 2020, but he also noted that plans have been further along in the process than they currently are, only to have everything scrapped before coming to fruition.

But several riders, including Davis, told FOX 31 on Tuesday that the center is long overdue for an upgrade, as it’s been around since at least the 1960s.

“For the amount of traffic that goes through here, it needs to be updated,” Davis said.

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