In an effort to increase the use of public transportation, reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions, and better accommodate the transportation needs of a growing north side of Morgantown, West Virginia University officials today (July 24) announced plans to break ground this fall on an intermodal transportation center.

The transportation hub will feature a 500-space parking garage, a covered Mountain Line bus terminal and ticket sale station, elevators and a covered bridge to WVU s nearby Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) station, a covered walkway to the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center and office space for the WVU Transportation and Parking unit. There will also be a central lobby area.

The 7,000-square-foot facility will also provide bicycle racks, shower facilities for cyclists and shell space for future retail storefronts. It is expected to be completed by fall 2009.

Down the hill from the WVU Health Sciences Campus, near the site of the existing PRT station, the project will cost an estimated $16 million, with $5.1 million coming from a U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration grant.

This project represents a huge step forward in meeting the transportation and parking challenges our University and community face,said Hugh Kierig, director of WVU Transportation and Parking.By bringing together several modes of transportation and more parking in one location, we are providing additional connectivity to employees and residents while reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions. This hub should really bolster existing services in the area.

This has been a collaborative effort,said Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese.We thank city, county and federal officials, Mountain Line and others for their willingness to work with the University and help us pave the way for additional parking and transportation alternatives in Morgantown. This fits well with WVU s blueprint for sustainabilitya commitment to increase �€~greenoptions campuswide.

He added,As we move forward, WVU also hopes to introduce additional transportation alternatives such as park-and-rides and car pool options.

The project allows for future expansion accommodating an additional 1,000 vehiclesfor a total of 1,500. WVU has issued a formal notice of intent to award the design-build contract to a team from March-Westin and Paradigm Architecture.

This project demonstrates what can be accomplished in cooperation between the University and the community,said David Bruffy, general manager for Mountain Line.The things being developed for the students are being developed for the community as well. The long-term impact is that this will create a central gateway to the University and PRT , but also the city of Morgantown. Many people coming into town will utilize the facilities on the Health Sciences Campus and this will provide a visible, well-organized gateway to the entire community.

In 2006, WVU was recognized as one of the best workplaces (higher education) for commuters by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Clement Solomon, WVU s director of sustainability. Continuing the trend of connecting the campuses, the intermodal facility is another step toward a sustainable transportation system, he noted.

The facility will also serve as a demonstration model for other higher education institutions and cities facing similar transportation issues, he added.