Wichita Falls City Councilors, staff members and other community leaders lifted their ceremonial shovels Tuesday morning and broke ground on the new Downtown Travel Center.
Mayor Glenn Barham and Director of Aviation, Traffic and Transportation John Burrus were joined at the podium by Cynthia Laney, Executive Director for Downtown Development and Commander Joel Jimenez with the Disabled American Veterans.
Jimenez spoke about how the Travel Center will make it easier for disabled veterans to get the care they need. He said, "You've got a rallying place now that can take these poor disabled veterans that have gave so much. Now we can transport them to the V.A. clinic and the Oklahoma V.A. Medical Center."
In addition to providing services for veterans, the Travel Center will serve as a major hub for cross-country bus lines and the local bus services.
The project has been in the works for 5 years and cost more than $4 million. Councilors voted to award the construction contract to Wichita Falls based Anthony Inman Construction Inc. during Tuesday's regular meeting. Construction will start on Wednesday.
Burrus said, "We're excited you know we've been waiting since 2007. We started finding the funding for this in 2009 and were excited to be at this point."
Finding the funding wasn't easy. In August the city was denied a federal grant and had to look elsewhere for the final dollars they needed. Burrus and his staff found relief from the cities General fund and the 4A/4B Boards. He said, "These were the circumstances that we have to deal with and were gonna roll up our sleeves and make sure we get it done and get it done right."