The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), alongside the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $24.3 million COTA mobility center at Rickenbacker. The mobility center is aimed at boosting economic development, education, child and family support, food and nutrition access and connecting central Ohio residents to job opportunities.
The state-of-the-art mobility center at Rickenbacker, located at LondonGroveport and Shook Roads in southern Franklin County, will connect with the Rickenbacker community, serving as an advanced transportation meeting point for transit vehicles from COTA and other agencies in multiple counties, alternative mobility options including bikes, scooters and shared rides, as well as the Groveport Rickenbacker Employee Access Transit shuttle. The new mobility center will have shared spaces for community gatherings and workforce training, a childcare center and a food pantry for the more than 38,000 workers at approximately 900 employment locations in the Rickenbacker area, making it easier for them to travel to and find needed resources near their workplaces.
“COTA and all of our partners embrace a mindset that prioritizes access to, and opportunities near our major job centers like Rickenbacker,” said Joanna M. Pinkerton, president/CEO of COTA. “This comprehensive mobility center represents a major step toward making Rickenbacker more connected and integrated with the community around it, providing much-needed services to improve the quality of life for workers, employers and residents.
In 2018, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s Rickenbacker Area Study identified the area as a significant economic hub in central Ohio, calling for increased access to mobility options, nutrition, healthcare and childcare. COTA and its partners will help meet those needs with the comprehensive COTA Mobility Center, which will include:
- Safe facilities for transfer service between regional shuttle services, including COTA’s transit network, Groveport Rickenbacker Employee Access Transit, Lancaster-Fairfield Public Transit and Pickaway Area Rural Transit.
- A new 7,000-square-foot grocery store from the Mid-Ohio Food Collective specializing in fresh vegetables, meats and non-processed foods.
- A permanent food truck patio for workplace and community events and space available for a community garden.
- Space for an early childhood center, for which COTA and its partners are seeking an onsite daycare provider.
- Dedicated outdoor space for a children’s playground and restoration of native Ohio habitat, including a butterfly garden designed to protect the Monarch butterfly’s migration path.
This is COTA’s first Federal Transit Administration Joint Development Project, which allows the authority to leverage federal funds for mixed-use development. Funding for the mobility center is also possible, in part, through support from members of Ohio’s bipartisan congressional delegation, including U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Mike Carey (R-OH) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
“I’m pleased to celebrate the groundbreaking of the mobility center at Rickenbacker,” said Rep. Beatty. “This implementation is special to me, as I was able to help secure $3 million in funding of this project for COTA for the 2023 fiscal year. This center is also important for improving the critical infrastructure of central Ohio, including the support of COTA’s fixed-route lines, as well as promoting job training, food access and other supportive services. Showcasing the economic stability of the mobility center and the greater Central Ohio region sends a message to our country as one of the top five named workforce hubs of the United States.”
“I’m proud to see the Central Ohio Transit Authority break ground on a new mobility center near Rickenbacker Airport,” said Rep. Carey. “Expanding access to public transportation is a top priority given the record growth rate experienced by the city of Columbus and Franklin County.”
With the development, the COTA Mobility Center at Rickenbacker will also accelerate COTA’s progress toward becoming a zero-emissions organization. It will be constructed to meet the requirements for a LEED Silver certification from the United States Green Buildings Council and an all-electric facility that uses no fossil fuels, resulting in reduced emissions and a clean indoor environment, and will provide two on-route charging locations for electric transit vehicles, which COTA continues to add to its fleet, as well as chargers for personal electric vehicles.
“The mobility center at Rickenbacker will serve as a major connection point and address the needs of Rickenbacker, area employers and employees and our residents,” said Joe Nardone, president and CEO of the Columbus Regional Airport Authority. “I thank COTA for leading this development and all of the partners who have come together to make this holistic project possible.”
Construction of the COTA Mobility Center at Rickenbacker begins this fall, led by Columbus-based Marker, Inc., and the facility is designed by Bowen and TranSystems Corporation, with expected completion in 2025.