- Associated Press - Friday, April 4, 2014

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia University Board of Governors on Friday approved athletic facilities upgrades and improvements to the university’s four-decade-old Personal Rapid Transit monorail.

The athletic facilities plan is estimated to cost $106 million. WVU said $75 million of that would come from bonds paid for by guaranteed annual revenue from the Big 12 Conference. An additional $25 million would come from private donations through the Mountaineer Athletic Club, and $6 million would come from a multimedia rights contract with North Carolina-based IMG College.

Some of the athletic projects are expected to begin this year, including an upgrade to the football team room in the Milan Puskar Center and football stadium renovations.

The stadium work involves restrooms, concourses, concessions, gates, four LED video boards and wall graphics. Also planned is an advertising marquee at the intersection leading into the WVU Coliseum.

The PRT upgrade authorizes up to $60 million in bond funding from WVU fees and federal grants for the second phase of a modernization plan. The work includes tunnel repair and electronics that operate the track, stations, pay booths and other items.

Considered the university’s main mass transit system for students, employees and visitors, the PRT has averaged 15,000 daily passenger trips on weekdays since opening in 1975. The PRT connects WVU’s three campuses and the downtown Morgantown business district.

Finance and facilities committees previously endorsed the projects, which would have to be approved later this month by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

Secondary projects under consideration include a new indoor track, renovation of the swimming facilities and tennis courts, and the addition of varsity sports locker and weight rooms.

The university broke ground on a new baseball stadium in October and wants to repurpose land occupied by the team’s former stadium, Hawley Field.

The board on Friday also approved the creation of a new department of forensic and investigative science and a school of politics and policy - both within the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences - and a master’s degree in health sciences in the school of medicine.

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