A long-planned transit project for Bluefield is finally moving to the construction phase. The West Virginia Department of Transportation announced earlier this month that a $2.6 million bid has been awarded to Swope Construction Company for the development of a new bus transfer station for the Bluefield Area Transit system.
The new transfer station is being funded through a grant award from the Federal Transit Administration. Bill Robinson, director of the West Virginia Division of Public Transit, said the transfer station in Bluefield is needed to keep riders out of the weather while they are waiting to transfer to another bus. The new facility also will provide shelter to Greyhound bus passengers. He says the transfer station will also handle natural gas vehicles.
“So many people have worked tirelessly on this project,” Byrd White, Secretary of Transportation, said during the official bid approval announcement. “WVDOT is proud of this innovative project, which is perfectly aligned with Governor Justice’s vision to make a real difference in the lives of West Virginians.”
The BAT system serves Mercer and McDowell counties, including the cities of Bluefield and Welch. According to the WVDOT, the transit system carried nearly 212,000 passengers in 2019, including 127,983 elderly and 15,966 passengers with disabilities for a total of 799.938 miles.
The transfer station is part of a larger effort to revitalize an underutilized part of the town, according to Robinson. He correctly points to the fact that more than 40 new businesses were opened in Mercer County in 2019, including technology giant Intuit.
“Bluefield had a vision to grow and to thrive,” Robinson said. “They are in the middle of a revitalization, and we’re proud that our project comes along at just the right time to really help people in this beautiful part of the state.”
In addition to the $2.6 million federal funding award, $527,669 in state funding is being utilized for the transit center project, along with $50,750 in local funding, the WVDOT said. Construction on the project is scheduled to begin this year, although an exact groundbreaking date has not yet been set.
We are pleased to see that this long-awaited project is nearing a construction phase.
It will ensure that riders of the public transit system will not have to wait outside during inclement weather while also ensuring the safety of the passengers, since the transfer station itself will be brightly lit inside and out, and monitored with modern security cameras and related equipment.
The transit center is another win for Bluefield.