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City, state and national officials celebrated the beginning of construction projects expected to upgrade a public transportation system in southern West Virginia.
Swope Construction will work to build a $2.6 million bus transfer station for the city’s Bluefield Area Transit (BAT) bus system. The new state of the art facility will be named after Larlyn Patrick McKinney, BAT’s director for more than two decades.
The bus station will offer riders a safe indoor facility with restrooms along with heating and air conditioning while waiting to transfer to another bus. Riders, who are mostly elderly, currently use an old, open-air shelter.
Gov. Jim Justice and U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito spoke during a groundbreaking ceremony in Bluefield, West Virginia.
“There have been a lot of people turning the wheels on this; doing amazing work to make this day a reality,” Justice said. “It’s unbelievable how important, how vital Bluefield Area Transit is to this community. Really and truly, all I can do is thank you — all of you that have made it happen. It’s been a real honor to be along for the ride.”
Former City Manager of the City of Bluefield, Dane Rideout also took to the podium. Rideout left the position in April 2021 but was credited for economic development projects in the region, including many of the BAT upgrades.
“Over the last several years, Bluefield has been on a transitional movement; a rebirth, a revival, a renaissance,” Rideout said. “This city has been the change agent for the region. In a nutshell, the city has taken charge of its destiny.”
The new facility is funded with a $527,000 in grant from the West Virginia Department of Transportation as well as funds from the U.S. Federal Transit Administration and local funding.
BAT buses serve more than 200,000 annual passengers on routes in Mercer and McDowell counties.