- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The Charles County commissioners and Maryland Transit Administration officials broke ground Wednesday for construction of a new transfer pavilion on the VanGO lot at U.S. 301 and Smallwood Drive in Waldorf.
Construction plans also include the installation of improved lighting and security cameras for commuter safety.
The VanGO lot restoration will complement the Waldorf Beautification Project being led by Charles County commissioners’ Vice President Reuben B. Collins II (D).
The VanGO Waldorf Park and Ride Transfer Pavilion’s total cost will be almost $436,000. Eighty percent of that cost will come from the Federal Transit Administration, 10 percent from MTA and 10 percent from Charles County.
Charles County commissioners’ President Candice Quinn Kelly (D) provided opening remarks at the groundbreaking, including introducing Del. Sally Y. Jameson (D-Charles), who spoke briefly before the small crowd of local and state officials.
Jameson said that the county is in need of such facilities to enhance bus services for commuters.
Ralign Wells, the MTA administrator, said he began his career 24 years ago in Baltimore as a bus driver.
“I have a passion for transit,” Wells said. He said he was pleased that Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) had the “vision to support” products such as the VanGO lot improvements. Twelve routes will be directed in and out of the lot for county residents.
MTA will continue to support “these types of ideas, we will continue to support the vision,” Wells said.
Collins expressed appreciation for seeing the fruition of the VanGO lot improvements and for something that residents also will appreciate.
“This is a great example of what can be accomplished when your local government partners with state [government officials],” Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said.
Kelly ended the ceremony by saying the new transfer pavilion will make it possible for Charles County residents who otherwise would be shut-ins or have no transportation to get to work and church. The new transfer pavilion is a great opportunity for economic development, she said.
Jeff Barnett, the county’s chief of transportation and community programming, said the transfer pavilion will be built on the far end of the lot and contain a bus shelter, a small staff office and bathrooms for bus drivers.
The 20-foot-wide structure will be on a 6-inch raised platform and provide more space for buses to load and unload passengers than the current bus shelter area on the U.S. 301 side of the lot. The existing shelter will later be moved closer to the new shelter.
Barnett added that buses carrying commuters to Washington, D.C., will be separate from buses carrying local riders, and buses will be able to be staged at the same time. At the old bus shelter, space limitations prohibit all of the buses from arriving or departing simultaneously.
“Hagerstown ... had a very positive experience when they did something similar to this,” said Barnett, who has spent half of his career in the commuter bus service industry.
About 85 commuter parking spaces will be lost to make way for the new transfer pavilion, but demand is expected to lessen at the VanGO lot when more commuter bus routes will leave from the Regency Furniture Stadium lot a few miles away, according to Barnett.
In addition to the new transfer pavilion, improved lighting and security cameras will be installed on the lot, Barnett said. Security cameras hopefully will be a deterrent to people hanging out or littering in the lot, he said.
Barnett said the construction contractor has 180 days to build the new pavilion, but the contractor has said the new building will be completed in 90 days. Barnett hopes the new structure will be open for use by the end of July.