GREENSBORO — The Greensboro Transit Agency will delay the purchase of several vans next year in favor of fixing the J. Douglas Galyon Depot’s leaky roof.
The area Metropolitan Planning Organization voted unanimously Wednesday to divert about $620,000 from the GTA fleet to the depot’s roof repairs as part of a larger renovation project at the restored, 92-year-old transportation hub.
The additional work will bring the total price tag for depot upgrades to about $2.1 million in a project that also includes extensive interior improvements.
Planners told the MPO’s advisory board that GTA could push back purchasing additional “paratransit” vans for a year to accommodate the depot’s “critical need” for a new roof as part of the upcoming renovation.
GTA’s paratransit program provides door-to-door service for residents with disabilities that make it impossible for them to use the system’s standard, “fixed route” buses.
“Are we risking those services at all by doing this?” asked Greensboro City Councilwoman and MPO member Tammi Thurm. “How does this impact those currently using paratransit?”
Transportation planning manager Tyler Meyer said that GTA officials had offered assurances that current services would not suffer.
In a report accompanying the budget request, GTA said that “additional paratransit vehicles can be deferred until fiscal year 2021 based on the current condition of the fleet, which includes 16 new vehicles.”
Not so the roof, which the report described as “past its useful life and needs to be replaced as soon as possible.”
“The roof recently suffered major water infiltration during a heavy rain event. ... This will recur in future heavy rainfalls unless addressed promptly,” the report cautioned.
Meyer said the renovation also involves relocating part of the station’s heating and cooling system to the roof, so it makes sense to do all related work at the same time.
Planned interior renovations include sprucing up the transit hub’s waiting area, call center, ticketing offices, public restrooms and bus drivers’ break room.
The city won a federal grant of $960,000 three years ago for the renovations with hopes of getting them underway in 2017, city officials said at the time. Now they are slated for next year.
The project was one of 61 nationwide that the Federal Transit Administration selected in an initiative to improve bus service.
The depot on East Washington Street opened in 1927 as the Southern Railway passenger terminal; Amtrak closed it in the late 1970s.
A coalition of government leaders, railroad enthusiasts and preservationists led a restoration effort that saw the historical structure reopen about 15 years ago as what is now — a hub for trains, taxi services and local, regional and national bus systems.
The MPO advisory board is a regional group that sets transportation policy for Greensboro and suburban Guilford County outside the High Point metropolitan area.
Voting members include several from the Greensboro City Council and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, and a representative each from the state Board of Transportation and the county’s suburban communities.
In other action Wednesday, the MPO heard that plans are moving forward to replace the railroad crossing on Franklin Boulevard near Burlington Road with a new design.
Responding to comments that they received from area residents, transportation planners have revised original blueprints so they now would replace the current, surface-level crossing with a bridge carrying trains over an underpass for motorists.
The state Department of Transportation has scheduled a public meeting to display the revised plan from 4-7 p.m. Nov. 21 at Genesis Baptist Church, 2812 E. Bessemer Ave.
The MPO also approved revisions to the area’s slate of transportation projects for the next decade, the “2020-2029 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program.”
Major projects added to the mix included:
- Widening Interstate 40 from four to six lanes through parts of western Guilford County in 2029.
- Restructuring the tangled intersection of Battleground Avenue, Lawndale Drive and Westover Terrace in 2028 to “accommodate pedestrians, bicycles and the A&Y Greenway.”
- Improving U.S. 29 to interstate standards from Hicone Road in northern Greensboro to Reidsville in 2027.