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Amid soaring costs, City Council devotes nearly $1 million for Wilmington Multi-modal Transportation Center

Vince Winkel

Inflation and rising construction costs have pushed the project $600,000 over the previous cost estimate.

City Council voted on Tuesday to pitch in about $900,000 to help build the Wilmington Multi-modal Transportation Center.

The increased cost comes from the rehabilitation and re-use of the building at 525 North 4th St. Rehabilitation is the best option, because that’s what allows the city to apply for the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, which would then pay for 80% of the costs.

The building will then become dedicated office space for the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The per-square-foot cost will be over $700, according to councilman Charlie Rivenbark, but only 20% of the cost will come from local agencies, including the city and the WMPO.

The total cost to rehabilitate the historic building will be at least $3.1 million, which is nearly $650,000 over the engineer’s previous estimates, largely due to inflation.

The motion passed unanimously. The WMPO will need to vote at its next meeting to put in additional money as well.

The council also voted unanimously to apply for a grant which would provide nearly half a million dollars for disaster resiliency. If Wilmington wins the grant, it would allow the Wilmington Police Department to install manual transfer switches at intersections across the city.

That system allows the police to hook the traffic lights to a generator, which helps prevent severe disruptions in the aftermath of a storm, when electricity is still out. Officials say they’ll also buy cones and other traffic control devices so they can make improvised roundabouts in intersections where emergency power isn’t available.

Three council members — Mayor Bill Saffo and members Luke Waddell and Clifford Barnett — were absent for the votes because they're visiting Washington, DC on council business.

Related: Wilmington mayor, council members in DC seeking over $30 million for WHA mold crisis

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant on the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.