Transportation Hub In Liberty Hill Takes Another Step Forward

Michael Seekings

By Barney Blakeney

Efforts to establish an intermodal transportation hub at the Amtrak train station off Rivers Avenue in North Charleston are moving forward. Residents of the nearby Liberty Hill community welcome it.

The Intermodal Transportation Center is a concept that would centralize surface mass transit – trains, buses and taxis – at one location in North Charleston. Deteriorating conditions at the Amtrak passenger station on Gaynor Avenue in North Charleston owned by CSX railways hatched the plan. After nearly two decades of planning, numerous setbacks and millions of dollars spent, Charleston Area Regional Transit Authority (CARTA) Chairman Michael Seekings said the agency is set to make the project a reality.

North Charleston City council last week approved an agreement that allows the city to act as landlord for the approximately $15 million upgraded facility. According to reports, the new facility could be completed next year. Some 14 years ago CARTA purchased for $6.8 million 36 acres of land at Montague Avenue and Dorchester Road to build an intermodal facility. CARTA spent another $2 million on infrastructure at the site. But a conflict developed and that plan was scraped in favor of locating the intermodal hub at the Amtrak station.

The predominantly Black Liberty Hill community which is adjacent to the old train station also would benefit from the new facility, the stakeholders agree. As redevelopment occurs around the Liberty Hill community, the revitalization spurred by the intermodal hub will help insure the community’s survival.

Seekings said the upgraded facility will give the Liberty Hill community a vibrant new resource, but it additionally will provide jobs for residents and better transportation access for them as well as the greater community. Its central location in North Charleston gives the regional transportation system a tie-in to its northern and southern services, Seekings said. Some CARTA offices also will be located in the building, he said.

Liberty Hill residents Jimmy and Mattese Lecque are excited about their new neighbor. The community has had the opportunity to have input in the facility’s development, Mattese Lecque said. Recognition of Liberty Hill’s unique history will be included in information about the facility located within it, she said. And commitments to minority business participation in the renovation process were obligated. She thinks the new facility will be a catalyst for redevelopment in the historically black community that has been surrounded by other development.

Jimmy Lecque said some residents closer to the new facility may experience some negative impact due to road construction, but the overall benefit to the community will be positive.

Charleston County Councilman Henry Darby, also a Liberty Hill resident, said the community is mindful of the potential for continued gentrification the new facility represents, but he thinks it will be good for Liberty Hill.

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