An intermodal transportation center on the northern end of Morgantown will boost public transportation and reduce traffic congestion and pollution, West Virginia University and community leaders said Thursday (Oct. 2).

Officials from WVU and the city of Morgantown broke ground for the transportation hub, which will be downhill from the Health Sciences Campus near the site of the existing Personal Rapid Transit station.

This transportation center will accommodate commuters of all stripes, from motorists to those who ride bikes,said Narvel Weese , WVU s vice president of administration and finance.The facilitys location is also convenient for those who rely on public transportation and will make it easier for students and employees on the Health Sciences, Evansdale and Downtown campusesto get to class or work.

The project is consistent with WVU s Transportation and Parking Plan enacted last year after input from faculty, staff and students,Weese added.The new facility is an excellent example of how the University is demonstrating its commitment to identify ways to reduce transportation and parking congestion.

The transportation hub will feature a 500-space parking garage, a covered Mountain Line bus terminal, elevators and a covered bridge to WVU s nearby PRT station, a covered walkway to the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center and office space for the WVU Department of Transportation and Parking .

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

The project will cost an estimated $16 million, with $5.1 million coming from a U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration grant.

U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., was instrumental in securing the federal funds, Morgantown Mayor Ron Justice said.

Without Congressman Mollohans assistance, this project would not have happened,Justice said.This facility is vital to meeting the transportation needs of a section of our city that is experiencing unprecedented growtha growth underscored by the inclusion of retail space in the design.

Hugh E. Kierig , director of WVU s Department of Transportation and Parking, noted the environmental benefits of the transportation center.

The facility is among the transportation units efforts in support of the Universitys sustainability program, called WE CAN for WVU Environmental Conservation Awareness Now, Kierig said.

By bringing together several modes of transportation and more parking in one location, we are reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions,he said.This in turn will result in a greener Morgantown and healthier population. Its a win-win for everyone.

The project greatly enhances the overall sustainability standing of WVU within the state and nationally, said Clement Solomon , sustainability director for WVU .

It not only reduces emissions and congestion, but also demonstrates our commitment to integrate the social aspects and well-being of the larger community,Solomon said.

The project allows for future expansion accommodating an additional 1,000 vehiclesfor a total of 1,500.

March-Westin and Paradigm Architecture have the design-build contract for the project.