Community members gathered for a ribbon-cutting Friday to celebrate the partnerships that led to the long-awaited opening of the new AppalCART headquarters.
N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata, who attended the event, called AppalCART the "premiere transit system" in the state, and he praised the staff for offering 1.6 million rides a year. "That's 1.6 million trips in a car that you've taken off the road," Tata said.
AppalCART Director Chris Turner noted that construction of the building had been a long process.
The agency first received a grant in 2000 to renovate its former building but later determined that the renovation would not yield enough space. By 2004, the agency had purchased land in Boone for a new structure and shortly thereafter hired Bill Clarke and David Moses as architects, Turner said. Work began on the property off N.C. 105 Bypass in summer 2009 but hit snags last summer when the original contractor left the project in the hands of the bonding company, which then hired Greene Construction to complete the project. Despite the hurdles, Turner said the building represented a true partnership between the N.C. Department of Transportation, the town of Boone, Watauga County and Appalachian State University, among others. "The cooperation we've had over the years has been just fantastic," Turner said. The result is an attractive new building with 23,000 square feet, improved garage and parking space, energy-saving features and more.
AppalCART board chairman Jerry Moretz remarked on "what a mess it would be" if AppalCART didn't exist to shuttle the students of ASU and community members. He noted that he also had been present for the dedication of the former building on Winkler's Creek Road, a space now too small to adequately handle the agency's traffic. "We look forward to it being our home for a long time," Moretz said.