AppalCART facility not ready for fall semester
by Anna Oakes
The new $5.5 million AppalCART transit facility on the
N.C. 105 bypass will not be ready in time for the fall semester.
Although the project — funded through the 2009 federal
economic stimulus package — was originally scheduled for completion in fall
2010, contractor disputes and site issues have caused a number of delays.
The facility will become the new hub of the Watauga County
transit service, funded jointly by Appalachian State University, Watauga
County, the town of Boone and state and federal transportation departments.
AppalCART long ago outgrew its current facility, located at 274 Winkler’s Creek
“Construction on the new AppalCART facility is ongoing,”
said Transportation Director Chris Turner. “The contractor is working on
erecting the last canopy, which will cover all our vans and about a dozen
buses. They have been hitting water in the footer holes, which has slowed
Other than construction of the canopies, the facility
lacks only a few tasks for completion, including connecting a bus wash to the
water system, testing heating and air conditioning systems and installing a
radio system, Turner said.
“Other than that it’s pretty well done,” he added.
The project was halted for some time in 2011, when
contractor McCarroll Construction of Arden began to experience financial
problems due in part to subcontractors going out of business.
Following an audit and mediation session, NCDOT agreed to
provide a $300,000 grant to the project so that McCarroll Construction could
finish the job.
“We will likely be operating out of the existing facility
a while after the semester begins,” said Turner. The property on Winkler’s
Creek Road will revert back to the county, which purchased the tract in 1980
when AppalCART was a county department.
New routes, stops
AppalCART’s fall semester schedule begins Aug. 20, and new
bus schedules have been printed, Turner said.
Turner recommends that new and regular riders check out
the new schedules, as arrival times may have changed at various stops.
“Most routes will be pretty much the same,” he said.
With the purchase of two used buses from the city of
Gastonia, AppalCART will add a new Silver route and a second bus on the Purple
route. The Silver route will travel the POP105 route — a loop from campus to
N.C. 105 to the N.C. 105 bypass to U.S. 421 back to campus — in the opposite,
The POP105 route will no longer stop at Caldwell Community
College on the N.C. 105 bypass; the Silver route will serve the community
college campus instead.
“It will enable POP105 to run a little more smoothly time-wise,”
The second bus on the Purple route means buses will arrive
at stops approximately every 15 minutes — instead of every 30 minutes — during
the busiest times of day.
Thanks to state and federal funding, AppalCART’s local
share of costs for the two used buses was $24,000, he said. The used buses are
expected to last about four or five years.
For more information or questions about AppalCART, call (828) 262-2278 or visit http://www.appalcart.com.