COTA modernization project will benefit local community while improving sustainability

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The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has broken ground on a transformative modernization project for its primary transit facility. The project will enable a more sustainable fleet while providing workforce training for the surrounding community.

The US$65m renovation of COTA’s McKinley Avenue facility will include expansive electric vehicle charging capabilities, easing the transition to diesel-free transit vehicles. Meanwhile, the project will engage young people at the middle school, high school, trade school and college levels to provide hands-on job training, job shadowing, internships and externships.

COTA is on track to meet its commitment to be diesel-free by 2025, replacing all diesel transit vehicles with Compressed Natural Gas and soon piloting an electrical fleet. COTA reduced greenhouse gases by 9% between 2012 and 2020 – a period during which the Central Ohio region saw a 40% increase in transportation-related greenhouse gases. COTA is also committed to achieving net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, a goal that is aligned with the City of Columbus Climate Action Plan.

“This project is about transformation, which is focused on quality of life for all people,” says COTA president/CEO Joanna M Pinkerton. “These are ambitious, necessary, and achievable goals that will ensure our next generation of workforce has a healthy region to prosper. COTA is committed to showing that sustainable growth can be done and it must be done to support vibrant, healthy neighborhoods and a vibrant, healthy economy for everyone.”

In partnership with Marker Construction, COTA will offer job training opportunities to students, women, minorities, unemployed adults, and formerly incarcerated individuals who are working hard to earn a second chance at life. A total of US$250,000 has been set aside for the administration, coordination and implementation of the workforce training program.

“I view the renovation of this building as a giant classroom to demonstrate to a new generation what the construction industry can offer,” says Alison Marker, president of Marker Construction. “The result will be a reimagining of the construction industry as a viable career path that offers well-paid jobs with excellent benefits and opportunities for career growth.”

The renovation of COTA’s McKinley Avenue facility is projected to be completed in June 2023.

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Lauren is acting associate editor for Traffic Technology International and freelance journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum two busy little girls. She is always in demand!