The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 29, 2009

Beckley Intermodal Gateway

City leaders have BIG plans for downtown

Beckley city leaders want to give the downtown a shot in the arm — a “BIG” one.

Construction for the Beckley Intermodal Gateway (BIG), a downtown transportation and revitalization project, is slated to begin in early 2010. City officials, concerned citizens, architects and engineers have hashed and re-hashed ideas for the $24 million facility funded primarily through a Federal Transit Authority (FTA) Grant for at least three years. Finally, the ideas are designs on paper, and city officials are gearing up to “move dirt.”

BIG, which will be surrounded by Robert C. Byrd Drive, Prince Street, Neville Street and Leslie C. Gates Place, is primarily designed to provide transportation upgrades, but it could become something much larger. A proposed second phase could bring new government, economic development and tourism offices and retail space. Also, designers hope the buildings will be sustainable “green” infrastructure while still meshing well with neighboring historic buildings.

The long road

Officially, the BIG project began in August 2006, when Congressman Nick Rahall and Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh announced that Rahall’s office helped secure an earmarked $20 million from the FTA. The city was required to provide 20 percent in matching funds.

New York-based PB Americas, formerly known as Parsons Brinckerhoff, is providing architectural and engineering services. The firm is no stranger to the city of Beckley, said PB’s David Hafley, project manager. Its other projects in Beckley include the new visitors center at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, a parking analysis for downtown and various Coal Heritage Trail initiatives. Altogether, PB has worked in the region for about 20 years.

Atlanta-based Niles Bolton Associates is also providing architectural services.

Even before plans were officially announced, BIG had been in the works for some time, Hafley said. Forward Southern West Virginia developed the concept, which was developed into a tentative master plan. This was crucial in FTA awarding the grant funds.

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