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November 7, 2012

Transit center construction steams ahead this month

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

Construction work on the Troy Multi-Modal Transit Center will stay on track after the Troy City Council approved the maximum construction price for the facility. The official groundbreaking is scheduled for this month.

The council voted 5-to-1 at the Oct. 22 meeting to approve a maximum $5,104,872 construction cost guaranteed by Tooles/Clark, the construction manager the council selected for the project. Tooles/Clark based the cost on construction bids received in September. There is $1,167,628 in additional costs for architectural services and the relocation of utility lines for a total of $6,272,500. The maximum cost includes a $387,000 contingency for construction, design/architectural and engineering services and relocation of utility costs.

City Councilman Doug Tietz was absent and excused from the meeting.

Troy Mayor Janice Daniels voted against the approval. She has staunchly opposed the Troy Transit Center since she took office last November.

“I’m being true to my principal opposition and voting no,” she said.

A divided council capped total costs for the project at $6,272,500 this past January in a 5-2 vote and accepted an $8.4 million federal grant for the project.  In late December, the council failed to approve an architectural contract, in effect rejecting the $8.4 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, Federal Rail Administration, in a 4-3 vote, which stalled the project. Mayor Pro Tem Maureen McGinnis and Councilmen Dane Slater and Jim Campbell were in support of the project.

“The transit center is fully designed and ready for construction,” Steve Vandette, city engineer, said to the council Oct. 22. “We have an excellent team working on the project, (engineering firm) Hubbell, Roth & Clark, (architects) Newman Smith and Tooles/Clark.”

He added that the facility meets all rail and federal requirements. “It’s quite beautiful,” he said of the design.

The current site plan includes the 2,000-square-foot building, 24,000-square-foot pedestrian bridge from the building in Troy to the train platform in Birmingham, an elevator, slips for four buses and taxi stands on 2.4 acres on Doyle Drive, just south of Maple, east of Coolidge. The original plans included the city of Birmingham and a tunnel from the Troy side to the train platform in Birmingham. That city pulled out of the deal after they were unable to negotiate a fair price for land adjacent to the train station and were not willing to proceed with condemnation to get the land. 

Troy city staff estimates that annual maintenance costs for the center would be $30,000, based on other city facilities. An Amtrak lease is expected to offset most, if not all of those costs, and the city and Troy Chamber of Commerce are exploring other ways to build revenue streams to offset any operational costs.

Glenn Lapin, economic development specialist for Troy, said he is meeting with Troy Chamber of Commerce President Michele Hodges on a regular basis, and the chamber is acting as liaison to businesses to explore a variety of business opportunities available at the transit center.

These include advertising, providing free Wi-Fi on the site, enhanced landscaping, signage space and sponsorships.

“We’re seeing what’s possible out there,” he said.

“We’re fully engaged in identifying a business model,” Hodges told the council.

Crews finished moving overhead DTE Energy and AT&T power lines underground this past September. ITC Transmission is scheduled to cut the power to high-voltage overhead lines in coming weeks. The ITC lines will be reenergized in May of 2013. This work was necessary in order to begin construction on the elevator, stair towers and bridge.

The ground breaking for the project is tentatively scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Nov. 27.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.