The city of Huntsville has been awarded a $12.5 million grant from the Federal Transportation Authority for improvements in its public transportation system, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced Tuesday.
The funding will be allocated for Huntsville to build a multimodal transfer station and renovate its existing operating facility downtown on Cleveland Avenue, according to the announcement. The grant money comes from the FTA’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Programs.
“This Administration is committed to rebuilding our nation’s transportation infrastructure even through the current COVID-19 crisis, and this $464 million in federal grants will help improve the safety and reliability of transit bus service nationwide as the economy returns,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in the announcement.
The Huntsville project is the only grant money awarded to Alabama out of the $464 million.
Last month, Huntsville rebranded its city buses as “Orbit” in a nod to the Rocket City’s space legacy. In 2018, the city authorized a comprehensive study into its public transit system and has since amended bus routes and adjusted hours, including launching service on Saturdays, among other enhancements.
Huntsville officials have said they have seen an increase in ridership since the changes were made.
“This grant will provide a major upgrade in our transportation system,” Mayor Tommy Battle said in a city announcement on the grant. “When complete, we’ll be able to provide more services for those who want and need alternative methods of transit.”
The city announcement said the new transfer station will be located at Church Street and Pratt Avenue will be able to accommodate additional buses, taxis, Greyhound, and ride-share programs like Uber and Lyft.
“As we look to add more routes and options to our transportation network, we’ll need an expanded facility for our central hub,” said city transportation director Tommy Brown in the announcement. “Our population and demand for service is growing and this puts us in a great position for the next 20 years to accommodate ridership and improve our reliability and efficiency.”
Phase I of the project is expected to cost about $15.7 million, according to the city. Improvements to the Cleveland Avenue facility will be in Phase II and cost about $3.4 million.
The new Church Street facility will begin construction next year following ongoing roadwork along Pratt Avenue with plans to open in 2022.
“Moving the transfer station will give us more room for waiting areas and public amenities like charging stations for cell phones, laptops and even electric vehicles,” Brown said. “Following this project, we’ll add a new building at our existing location with services for bus drivers such as a lunch room, break rooms, locker facilities, automated bus wash and employee parking.”
Updated today, Aug. 11, 2020, at 2:47 p.m. with new information throughout.
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.