Leaders break ground on transit facility

Published 12:07 am Saturday, October 6, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Mississippi Department of Transportation Director of the Office of Intermodal Planning Charles Carr speaks while the Rev. Bishop T.C. McBeth, from left, Mayor Butch Brown, Natchez Transit System Executive Director Sabrena Bartley and MDOT Transportation Commissioner Tom King sit on stage during the transit facility groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning.

NATCHEZ — Regionalism was the buzzword Friday, and area transportation officials say the idea is about to hit the road.

Natchez Transit System Executive Director Sabrena Bartley said at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Natchez Regional Transit Facility that the facility was planned with all of Southwest Mississippi in mind.

“What we are celebrating today is a positive difference in Natchez and Adams County and all of southwest Mississippi, regionally,” Bartley said.

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Mississippi Deportment of Transportation Southern District Commissioner Tom King said the facility is the centerpiece of regional efforts led by NTS to coordinate public and private transportation resources.

“The scope (of this facility) extends beyond the City of Natchez,” King said. “Today symbolizes that collaboration and commitment works.”

Charles R. Carr, director of MDOT’s Office of Intermodal Planning, said the facility is a step toward making the vision of regional transportation a reality.

Mayor Butch Brown said Carr’s and Bartley’s dedication to work and vision of innovation as an essential part of making the facility a reality.

“This (facility) is the poster child and product (of that vision),” Brown said. “It is going to set the example and raise the bar for regional transportation.”

The facility, which will be located at the corner of Wood Avenue and North Shields Lane, is designed to be a regional transfer hub, a modern maintenance center and a regional transportation call-and-dispatch center, King said. It will also include a park-and-ride lot, space for vehicle parking, a regional training classroom and retail space for operators and private transportation service.

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Alderman Mark Fortenbery, center, and other officials shovel dirt during the ceremony.

Several organizations and agencies, Bartley has 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.

The state-of-the-art facility will cost approximately $4.28 million to build, King said. The 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.

MDOT 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 $175,000 in matching funds for the 5311 funds.

The facility must be completed by November 2013.