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Sen. Leahy, Gov. Shumlin help to launch new transportation hub

MIDDLEBURY — State, federal and local officials converged on Middlebury on Thursday to celebrate the opening of Addison County’s newly built, $4.3-million public transportation hub.
“This new facility will help Addison County Transit Resources (ACTR) meet the growing demand for public transit in Addison County and throughout Vermont,” said U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, the senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who secured a $2.85 million federal grant to help subsidize the new facility on Creek Road. “ACTR has built a tremendous amount of community support around this project, and I am pleased that their good work will continue and grow in this beautiful new facility.”
Leahy and Gov. Peter Shumlin were among a group of more than 60 people who turned out to tour the new facility, which ACTR moved into in July. The 12,500-square-foot building replaces a 1,250-square-foot rented space on Boardman Street that ACTR outgrew more than five years ago, according to Jim Moulton, the organization’s executive director. Planning for the new facility began around a decade ago.
The nonprofit’s regular routes include a Middlebury in-town shuttle, a Tri-Town Shuttle that links Bristol, Vergennes and Middlebury and a Snow Bowl Shuttle that goes through Ripton. ACTR collaborates with other agencies on buses from Middlebury to Rutland and Burlington. And last year, ACTR launched a new Route 116 service linking Bristol to Burlington.
ACTR provided more than 172,000 rides during fiscal year 2012.
“It’s taken 10 years for us to get here,” Moulton said. “And it arrived not a moment too soon.”
Leahy recalled visiting the ACTR headquarters several years ago. He said he saw workers trying to function in close quarters and the need to park the organization’s bus fleet outdoors in all kinds of weather. ACTR currently has 17 buses and 30 full- and part-time staff.
“You sold me,” Leahy said, with a chuckle.
Leahy in turn sold federal transportation officials on the need to come up with the grant money. The state of Vermont kicked in $756,000, with the remaining $520,000 raised locally.
Vermont’s senior senator said the new ACTR headquarters could serve as a model to Washington on how to house, and operate, public transportation services in a rural setting.
Shumlin also praised the facility, particularly its “green” features. Those include insulation at 50 percent greater than code requirements, a heating system fired by wood pellets, and a rainwater and snow-melt collection system for use in the bus wash.
“This is a smart building and an example of how you do it right,” Shumlin said.
Middlebury selectboard Chairman Dean George, who also heads up the ACTR board, said the new facility will help the organization meet what has been a steady annual increase in ridership.
“As the motto on the side of our bus says, ‘Transportation for everyone’ has become a reality.”
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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