Tuesday, May 17, 2022

This project has been in the design phase for nearly six years. Here’s why

The Newport News Transportation Center design (WYDaily photo/ Courtesy of Vincent Urbano)
The Newport News Transportation Center design (WYDaily photo/ Courtesy of Vincent Urbano)

NEWPORT NEWS — The Newport News Transportation Center was supposed be complete in October 2018.

And now the project won’t be complete for another two years.

“This isn’t your normal project,” said Vincent Urbano, the project manager.

Urbano said there are multiple agencies involved besides the city and Amtrak, including CSX, a private railroad company, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

In total, the city has five agreements which deal with construction, federal and state funding and which agency accepts responsibility for the $46,921,604 project, which is funded primarily by federal and state grants.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • $14,324,121 in Federal CMAQ grant funds
  • $9,745,224 in State RSTP grant funding
  • $20,500,000 in State IPROC grant Funding
  • $2,166,712 in State Urban grant Funding
  • $185,547 in City Transit Funds

Project timeline

In late 2012, the city planned to move the current Amtrak station from 9304 Warwick Blvd. to 500 Bland Blvd. to create one transportation center with buses, taxis and Amtrak service on site.

“The current site has inadequate parking, lacks a level boarding platform, non ADA compliant, and inadequate connectivity to other transportation modes,” Urbano wrote in an email.

In addition, the 30-year-old Amtrak station building is not centrally located and is unable to handle more people, he added.

While the city waited for the federal government to finish conducting an environmental assessment of the area, which took more than three years to complete, the city had a public meeting in 2016 and acquired more property for the center a year later from Young Mills Apartments and a resident, Urbano said.

The main agreement is a 40-year lease between the city and Amtrak which Urbano said took two years for Amtrak to sign a six-page document. It was signed last May.

What’s the hold up now?

CSX has railroad tracks running parallel to Amtrak’s and before working with the city, CSX must finish negotiating with Amtrak about which company will own the land, rail tracks and conduct maintenance.

After the smaller agreements are complete, the city can work with CSX on construction agreements and then work with the DRPT and VDOT on who will manage the project.

The other roadblock is waiting on the Attorney General’s office to approve the agreement between DRPT, VDOT and the city since both VDOT and the city are using FHWA funding for the project, said Chris Smith, director for policy, communications and legislative affairs for DRPT.

Contracting bids for the Newport News Transportation Center start in October and construction is scheduled for August 2021.

Julia Marsiglianohttp://wydaily.com
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to julia@localvoicemedia.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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