BLACKSBURG — Construction has started on the long-anticipated multi-modal transit facility at Virginia Tech.
The $36 million project involves the construction of a two-story, 13,000-square-foot facility and will centralize bus stops and routes throughout the area. The project will aim to improve safety, convenience and efficiency for the BT system.
Along with Blacksburg Transit, the facility will serve as a hub for bike sharing and larger bus services such as the Smart Way that runs between the Roanoke and New River valleys and the Virginia Breeze.
“This will be a place for bus riders, as well as walkers [and] bicyclists,” Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith said.
The multi-modal facility has been planned for over a decade and also comes as other major transportation initiatives in the region are coming to fruition. State officials, including Gov. Ralph Northam, recently stopped in Christiansburg to announce an agreement that will lead to the return of passenger rail to the New River Valley.
“We have an opportunity to bring back old technologies like passenger rail, but also build on the infrastructure we have now,” Hager-Smith said, “and really make the most of the different kinds of transportation available to us.”
Hager-Smith said it’s an interesting time in the region as far as the transportation sector is concerned. She pointed to Google subsidiary Wing’s ongoing experimentation with drone deliveries in Christiansburg and Torc Robotics’ work with autonomous vehicle systems.
Expected to be complete in the spring of 2023, the multi-modal transit facility will be located near the south side of the Perry Street parking garage at Tech. The plans call for a re-imagining of the Perry Street area.
The new facility’s first floor will provide a heated and air-conditioned waiting area and house Tech’s Alternative Transportation Department and the Hokie Bike Hub. The second floor will serve as a break area for BT operators and provide office and meeting space.
Seventeen bus loading and unloading slips will be grouped around two loops located on either side of the new transit facility. Perry Street will be closed and transformed into a pedestrian-friendly plaza.
The plaza will include a portion of the Infinite Loop, a two-mile, fully-accessible pathway that is part of the Tech’s campus master plan. The Loop will also connect the campus districts that will be formed as part of a greater initiative called Beyond Boundaries 2047.
The project is being funded by BT through the use of federal grants.