BAT transfer station on track | Local News

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BLUEFIELD — The new state-of-the-art Bluefield Area Transit (BAT) transfer station should be in operation by early next year as material shortages have presented some delays.

Patrick Dove, project manager for Swope Construction, said work is progressing at the site and construction on walls and a roof should start soon.

Located beside Flowers Bakery on Bluefield Avenue on a 2.5-acre lot, the 2,200-sq.-ft, $2.7 million structure will provide BAT riders a new, modern station, complete with restrooms, heat and air conditioning.

Riders had been using an open-air shelter/kiosk on Princeton Avenue for years and then more recently a temporary outside hub at the old Gulf Station on Bluefield Avenue.

On Friday, crews were working on preparing the site for a future parking area.

“We are hoping in the next couple of weeks all this will be wrapped up,” Dove said. “We will be able to concentrate on getting all the base stone down for the parking lot.”

Framing on the facility should start within a couple of weeks, he said. Next month, the structure may be under roof.

Dove said everyone was hoping to have the project finished by the end of this year, but material shortages are creating some delays so “it will probably go into the first quarter of next year.”

“The market in general is seeing some extreme times in material availability,” he said, referring to the impact of the pandemic, including shortages of lumber.

Dove said things are getting back in stock, “but the prices are heavily inflated at the moment” and that may continue through the rest of the year.

The federal stimulus money contributed to the problem, he said, because many people used the extra money to do home improvement projects, which created a hike in demand and production and supplies then lagged.

Dove said there is also a lot beside the transfer station that will be used for future development in conjunction with anticipated growth in the area.

The transfer station for BAT will be a “busy hub,” he said, including a possible agreement with Greyhound bus lines.

An official ground-breaking was held earlier this year for the project, with Gov. Jim Justice attending.

Former Bluefield City Manager Dane Rideout was instrumental in getting the project off the ground, with the money coming from the Federal Transit Administration.

“So many people have worked tirelessly on this project,” said Byrd White, Secretary of Transportation, at the ground-breaking.  “WVDOT is proud of this innovative project, which is perfectly aligned with Governor (Jim) Justice’s vision to make a real difference in the lives of West Virginians.”

Bill Robinson, director of the state Division of Public Transit, said a transfer station in Bluefield was necessary to keep riders out of the weather while waiting to transfer to another bus or to shelter Greyhound bus passengers. The facility will also handle natural gas vehicles.

The project is also a part of a larger effort to revitalize an underutilized part of town, he added, mentioning the $2.5 million Commercialization Station, also located on Bluefield Avenue in the old freight terminal.

In 2016, Bluefield received grant funding to develop the facility, a business incubator designed to nurture manufacturing in the area. Local business and government officials are pushing to bring jobs to Mercer County.

The new transit station will be located nearby on a 2.5-acre parcel beside Flowers Bakery.

“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.”

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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