Natchez transit facility gassing up for construction

Published 12:08 am Friday, September 28, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Oddee Smith Construction employee John Dover uses an excavator to break up concrete on the site where the Natchez Transit Facility will be built Thursday afternoon on N. Shields Lane.

NATCHEZ — Work is under way at the site of the future state-of-the-art transit facility on North Shields Lane.

Crews with Paul Jackson Construction of Brookhaven are removing a fence, concrete slab and shed from the site, formerly the location of A-B Motor Company.

The crews also have 7,000 yards of dirt that has to be removed from the site.

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After the demolition and excavation phases of construction are complete, City Engineer David Gardner said crews will begin a foundation for the facility.

The transit facility, its equipment, as well as two recently purchased trolleys, commuter bus and two other passenger vehicles, are being funded by a $3 million federal stimulus package through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is providing $900,000 in MDOT Formula Grants For Other than Urbanized Areas program, or Section 5311, funds to help pay for approximately $1 million in unforeseen costs for the facility.

The city will also have to pay approximately $200,000 in matching funds for the 5311 funds. Gardner has said he believes the city will only end up paying approximately $180,000.

The city originally thought it would not be required to pay any matching funds for the transit facility, but construction bids for the facility came in more than the project’s budget, approximately $1 million more than the $2.4 million construction budget for the project.

Gardner has said it was discovered that the budget, which was based on estimates made by the project’s design engineers at ABMB Engineers in Baton Rouge, did not factor in the Buy American provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The facility will be city-owned and will open up more grant funding opportunities that could pay for the operation and maintenance of the building, Natchez Transit System Director Sabrena Bartley said.

The vision behind the transit facility is regionalism, and the goal is to centralize transportation services to one location, Bartley said.

Since the 2005 passage of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, Bartley said, there has been a push for the coordination of services and the elimination of duplicate services of different transportation providers by enabling the providers to share their resources.

Bartley said the facility will allow NTS to expand its service area and incorporate park-and-ride routes carrying out-of-town passengers with new fixed routes in the city that will have designated stops and fixed schedules.

She said NTS will be the lead agency at the facility and will be able to work with and coordinate services with other transportation providers.

Several organizations and agencies, Bartley said, have committed to be a part of the regional transit effort that will be centralized by the facility. Those organizations include the AJFC Community Action Agency, Claiborne County Human Resource Agency, Copiah County Resource Agency, First Class Limousine Service, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors and approximately 12 other groups.

Construction of the facility must be completed by November 2013, Gardner said.