A decade of work realized: G.K. Butterfield Transportation Center open to public
By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
With more than a decade of planning, 22 months of construction, $8.4 million and the cutting of a ribbon, leaders said public transportation in Greenville has taken a massive step forward.
Hundreds of supporters, stakeholders and facilitators gathered in the blistering sun Wednesday morning to open the G.K. Butterfield Transportation Center in the city’s booming Dickinson Avenue corridor. Buses will begin using the facility today.
The center’s namesake, U.S. Rep G.K. Butterfield, who was honored on behalf of his efforts to secure state and federal grants responsible for a majority of the center’s funding, told guests its construction is evidence of a joint effort and dedication to the city’s future.
“You see today is not about me, as tempting as that may be, it is about the citizens in Greenville, their quality of life, and their future,” he said. “This project demonstrates that we have visionary leadership in Greenville, not just elected officials but city staff, past and present, who understand the importance of enhancing Greenville’s infrastructure and planning for the decades to come.”
The center has been in the works for more than a decade. The City Council in 2008 selected a site bounded by Evans, Cotanche, Eighth and Ninth street but suspended property acquisition and development there in 2011. The location was later privately developed as a student housing project, The Boundary @ West End. A site at Dickinson Avenue and Bonners Lane also was considered.
The city secured funding in 2014 and settled on the final site at 600 S. Pitt St. in 2015.
Funding for the project came mostly through state and federal grants, with the city contributing about $900,000.
Construction began after a groundbreaking ceremony in September 2016. The total 1.7 acre will serve as the central hub for the GREAT Bus system — relocating it from Reade Street. Containing 12 bays, the hub will be the start and end point for all GREAT buses, allowing residents to utilize the entire network from a central point.
In addition to city buses, this hub also will feature service from Pitt Area Transit, East Carolina University Transit, Greyhound and offer a connector for Amtrak service in Wilson.
The 9,442-square-foot facility and bays are all compliant with the American’s with Disabilities Act, utilizing kneeling bus elevators, ramps and even hearing loops to allow hearing aid users to hear announcements in the facility.
Designed by Jacobs Engineering and built by general contractor TCC Enterprises LLC, the building stands out for its modern design and wooden columns. The grounds around the facility include a 15-foot stainless steel sculpture designed by East Carolina University professor Hanna Jurban.
The facility also will feature public bathrooms and rest areas and a break area for transportation workers. The upstairs will house administrative offices for transportation staff. The Center City police unit will be located on the west side of the facility, with storage for police bicycles and Segways, a conference room and a public sergeant’s desk.
City officials have said the facility will not be another substation, but an additional facility to help police work in the area.
At the ribbon cutting, Mayor P.J. Connelly said residents will be impressed by the center’s appearance, but they should take note of how it will also increase opportunities and economic development for the city as a whole.
"We were told that this was going to be a beautiful facility, and it certainly is," he said. "But this transportation center is so much more than just a good-looking building in our Center City. It creates a sense of place, and the public transportation options provided here will benefit our city in many ways. There are economic benefits associated with an investment in public transportation. Such investment can create jobs, revitalize city districts and neighborhoods, enable employers to tap into a larger workforce, and save money on infrastructure costs."
Contact Seth Gulledge at Sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579. Follow him on Twitter @GulledgeSeth