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With Potential Boost Of More Cash, Downtown Transportation Center Could Move Forward

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jun 25, 2018
Construction bids went out again this summer for the planned Multi-Modal Transportation Center. (Rendering courtesy of H R Associates PA)
A boost of an additional $2.2 million for the planned Multi-Modal Transportation Center in downtown Wilmington could move the project forward, if approved by the area’s regional transportation organization this week.

A resolution to support allocating additional money to the Cape Fear Transportation Authority for the project is on the agenda for the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization’s (WMPO) board meeting Wednesday.

The Multi-Modal Transportation Center is designed to include a WAVE Transit administration office and slips for 11 buses to replace the existing on-street transfer location at Second and Princess streets. Plans for the project also include renovations to the Neuwirth Building.

The $2.2 million, if adopted by the board this week, would add to the $2.4 million awarded to the authority for the multi-modal project in early 2016. Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority has requested the additional funds from the WMPO for “unanticipated project costs,” according to the resolution.

The project was put on hold this spring after bids for construction came in higher than earlier estimates, Albert Eby, executive director of the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority, said in March. Officials have since reassessed the project for changes.

“We are very confident that we can complete the project with an additional $2.2 [million],” Eby said in an email.

Eby said Monday that engineering work has taken place to bring better value to the planned project, set to be built on 1.5 acres between North Third and Fourth streets and Red Cross and Hanover streets in downtown Wilmington.

The re-engineering work includes changes to the center's drive aisle canopies and the type of wood used for the canopies and eliminating the skylights on the canopies, Eby said. The changes were aimed at bringing down the cost of the project, he added.

But they “didn’t change the overall aesthetics of the project,” Eby said, adding that the rendering unveiled in May 2017 still represents what is proposed for the transportation center.

“Design is complete, and the city of Wilmington TRC [Technical Review Committee] has released the project for construction,” Eby said in his email. Bidding for construction of the project started again June 3, and bids are due by July 3, Eby said.

The actual timeline for construction, however, is still uncertain. Eby said that the bidding processes and when funds from the WMPO might be made available for the project will determine its the groundbreaking and estimates for when it could be complete.

“In the next couple of weeks, we will start to get some clarity,” Eby said of the project timeline. “We should have some more clarity after the [July Fourth] holiday.”
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