Delay in equipment delivery holds up opening of Albany Transportation Center
February 1—ALBANY — Driving by the new Albany bus station on West Oglethorpe Boulevard, everything looks ready for business. The same applies to the interior of the building. But there is a small drawback.
“What we’re waiting for is the main switch that powers the electrical board,” said city transportation director David Hamilton. “That shipping date has changed several times.”
As has been the case with consumers everywhere since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the city is finding itself unable to get a critical piece of equipment in a timely manner. Hamilton said he thinks there have been four previous promised delivery dates on the core part before the latest one scheduled for later this month.
Over the summer, Hamilton had anticipated cutting the ribbon on the $11.5 million facility in conjunction with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration in January. This seemed reasonable with the completion of the project planned for October before the issue arose with the delivery of the main switch.
“In August and September we were given a ship date of 10-17,” Hamilton said, referring to October 2022. “Then we were given another ship date of 1-13 (2023), and now the final date of proposed ship is 2. -27.
“When it’s in place, we’ll be able to schedule a ribbon cutting and, of course, a grand opening.”
Meanwhile, city bus service continues to operate at a location behind the Albany Civic Center.
“It’s not really ideal for shuttle service,” Hamilton said. “Operationally, it presents a challenge. When there are events at the Civic Center, we have to rebuild the route. They’ve been monthly events down there that really affect us. We have to reroute the route to make sure that we” do not affect their events”.
The saga of the new Transportation Center has been a long one for the city. Planning began in the early 2000s when a site search began.
A site was initially identified on city property behind the Dougherty County Courthouse, with a vision of a two-story building with shops and possibly restaurants on the ground floor and business offices upstairs. That site fell through because of opposition from downtown businesses, as well as concerns that there might be Native American artifacts on the site.
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Over the following years, several other sites were identified, including the former site of the Heritage House Hotel on West Oglethorpe Boulevard that was still standing at the time.
Eventually the city leased space at the former Trailways station before purchasing 300 W. Oglethorpe Blvd. construction site, demolishing it and building the new transportation hub.
Once completed, Hamilton said, the Transportation Center will have a significant impact on the area.
“That facility has really changed the Harlem district,” he said. “We can’t wait to do the grand opening and we’re really looking forward to operating out of this facility.”
The new station will have a computer area for travelers and other facilities, including a conference room for community meetings. Illuminated signs will also inform riders of the scheduled arrival and departure times of buses.
The center will also serve as a hub for commercial bus service.
“This is cutting edge and something to be proud of,” Hamilton said.