WRTA moves into new offices, plans station upgrade
By Ashley Luthern
Although the parking lot still needs to be lined, the new Western Reserve Transit Authority administration building is open on schedule and under budget.
The WRTA board of trustees met Thursday afternoon at the 25-year-old Mahoning Avenue office for the first time since construction began last year.
“This was a big project, and we’re glad to see it come to the end,” said Executive Director James Ferraro.
The expansion added a 960-square foot area on the second floor for a board/conference room and an elevator to comply with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The project cost about $1.2 million and was funded with federal stimulus money. WRTA received a total of $3.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
In connection with the expansion, WRTA has hired 14 drivers, three office workers and three mechanics, Ferraro said.
“No one’s getting rich over here, but we are having an impact on Mahoning County’s economy,” he said.
The stimulus money was allocated for capital projects: $2.1 million for the administrative office expansion, $990,000 for 12 buses and five minivans, $352,000 for operating assistance, $72,000 for surveillance cameras and $15,000 for bus shelters.
Any surplus left over from improvements to the administrative building would either be used by WRTA or go back to the federal government, said Marianne Vaughn, secretary-treasurer.
“For example, say we have a stimulus line item for a bus shelter, but if we have enough money to buy 10 bus shelters, we could do that,” Vaughn said.
At Thursday’s meeting, trustees received a federal grant, not stimulus money, and awarded a $680,000 contract to improve the Federal Station driveway, sidewalks and shelters.
The work is scheduled to begin Sept. 7 and will be finished before the end of the year, said Don Meszaros, WRTA’s director of maintenance.
“We’re spending a lot of money down there [at Federal Station], and we need to make it presentable if we expect the public to support us,” said trustee John P. Brown, III.