Columbia, SC (WLTX) Getting around the Midlands isn't always that easy, but residents have the opportunity to give their opinion about a new Regional Intermodal Transportation Center that aims at making getting into and around Columbia much easier.
Wednesday night at the Richland County Main Library on Assembly Street the public was invited to learn about the project and to give input on what they would like to see.
Benedict College Engineering Graduate, Tatyanna Taylor, came to the public input meeting wondering how the consulting team hired to look into the project was getting information. She Tells News 19, "I want to know what type of quantitative data did they collect pertaining to our system we already have. How do they plan to enhance it given the facility given the things they want to interpret into it."
Executive Director of COMET. Dr. Robert Schneider says they have long outgrown their current facility on Laurel Street. He says, "Its not great for our customers. Its a limited amount of indoor waiting, really hard to access, limited sidewalks. Its not a great fit and the community deserves better."
Thats one reason why the Central Midlands Council of Governments is conducting this study to drive forward with a new transportation center. Chip Badger is the project manager for Wendel, the firm hired to do the study. He explains the scope saying, "We're looking at bringing in Greyhound, and Mega Bus. We would have taxi cabs, areas for Uber, certainly looking at bycicles, bike storage and access, certainly adequate pedestrian access." And he says maybe even easy train access down the road.
But with all that in one place, Taylor says she has one concern, security. She says, "It will be a very public place, just like the library, and I don't want it to be destroyed."
Schneider says they are taking that into consideration too. He says, "We want a very good safe clean space that whole community can be proud of, not just the riders, not just downtown, but we as a community can look back and go, 'We built it and we built it right.'"
Buiding it right is estimated to cost $10 to $15million. But this meeting and study is just the first step in the process. Preferential land will be chosen, environmental studies complete then the design process and input from the community on that. Funds will be raised and then finally bids will go out for construction. And all of that must follow federal guidelines every step of the way and it takes time. Schneider says, "It really is five to seven years before a shovel hits the ground."
If you would like to check out the project and give your input, here is the link: http://www.midlandstransportationcenter.com/