A $14.5 million bus, train and taxi hub in North Charleston planned for nearly two decades is on a fast track after a vote by the CARTA board on Wednesday.

CARTA agreed to a maximum 30-month timetable for building the long-delayed facility as a condition of receiving $11.6 million in federal funding.

"We are in a position to meet that schedule," said CARTA Executive Director Christine Wilkinson.

The Charleston Area Regional Transportation Authority board voted unanimously to approve the construction schedule as part of a new funding agreement with the Federal Transit Administration that allows the project to move forward at a new location.

Amtrak Station property on Gaynor Avenue will be the location for the two-story, 33,000 square-foot project, which will move from its original location on West Montague Avenue near North Charleston Coliseum.

The FTA's blessing means CARTA avoids repaying $8.8 million in transit funding that had been spent so far. CARTA will be able to keep up to $4.7 million from the sale of the 36-acre West Montague Avenue location to be invested in the new Amtrak site. CARTA will also be able to transfer $433,000 in funds spent on engineering and design work to the new project location.

"This will result in a reduction in the debt owed to the FTA from $8.8 million to $3.7 million," the FTA said in a letter to CARTA from Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan.

Sale proceeds from the West Montague property in excess of $4.7 million may be applied to the $3.7 million debt, she said.

CARTA will repay its remaining debt to the FTA in an arrangement to be worked out later, she said.

"If CARTA is not able to follow through with this agreement and bring this project to completion, FTA will terminate the federal grant agreements and request repayment in full," McMillan wrote.

The new location is needed because proposed passenger rail service at the West Montague property would conflict with existing freight rail.

The passenger transportation hub will replace the dingy Amtrak station and the faded Greyhound bus station on Dorchester Road.

Some $11.6 million in federal funds and $2.9 million in local transportation tax money has been allocated for the new passenger transportation center.

"Things are going to start moving along at a better pace. We've been able to get the ox out of the ditch," said CARTA board Chairman Elliott Summey.

As part of the new agreement, CARTA will forego $3.7 million in future FTA funding, CARTA officials said.

The new transportation center design is intended to recall the nation's grand train stations, particularly Union Station, a former Charleston landmark on Morrison Drive that burned decades ago.

The Liberty Hill neighborhood where the Amtrak station is located will benefit from the project, Summey said.

Millions of dollars, mostly from federal grants, were spent to buy and improve the industrial tract on West Montague Avenue. It was transformed into grassy, palm-tree-lined grounds with a pond and fountain.

The project faced a stumbling block in 2012 when questions were raised about whether Amtrak trains stopping at the new station would block rail traffic at CSX's nearby Bennett Yard. The conflict between freight and passenger rail would have cost $25 million to fix, officials said.

Local officials thought they had FTA approval for moving the project from West Montague to the Amtrak station. The regional FTA office said the idea was OK, but the agency's Washington headquarters objected.

That resulted in a trip to the nation's capitol by Summey and Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., who serves on the CARTA board. They met with FTA leaders to discuss the situation.