Does City Need Transit Center?

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

June 21, 2005

The Downtown Transit Center Project now has a green light. With all the talk about the approval of the new transit center, some may be wondering, does Charlottesville really need one? Some city council members do not believe so.

"It's certainly not a necessity," said Councilman Rob Schilling. "I think anytime you can give people a reason to use transit it's a good thing, if you convince people to ride the bus more often, but I think $10 million is too much to spend on this facility."

But other city officials say the project will be well worth it. The transit center, set to be built adjacent to the new pavilion on the east end of the mall, will act as the main downtown hub for CTS. This way, it should help to ease some of the traffic along streets like Market, a main transfer site.

City officials also say the center will have a drop off space for tour buses, house a visitor’s center, as well as boost economic growth for that end of the mall.

During last night's City Council meeting, city council voted 3-2 in favor of funding the project, at a cost of almost $4 million more than estimated. However - none of it using taxpayer money.

"It's 99 percent funded from outside. What that means is the staff went out and found money, 99 percent of $10 million to build this, " said Councilman Blake Caravati at last night's meeting.

But Schilling believes some of the money could have been put to better use.

"At least $600,000 of those funds were discretionary and could have been used for other purposes, for example the Belmont Bridge, which needs a million and a half dollars in repair," he said.

But the project did eventually get the go ahead after about three and a half years in the making. The city hopes to soon officially have a contractor for the project.

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