Work on city’s transport center in early stages

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Efforts to create a new intermodal transportation facilityremain in the early stages as city officials hope to secureadditional funding to continue the project.

“We’re still in a planning situation,” said Mayor Bill Godbold,pointing out that the city has received a federal appropriation todevelop plans, purchase property and to do some other preliminarywork. “We’ve got $1 million to work with.”

The intermodal facility would be a central location for trainand bus services through the city, plus some other services. Itwould be located around the old smoke stack on North RailroadAvenue, and city officials are considering how much of the blockwill be needed.

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“We might not need all of it. We might need more,” Godboldsaid.

Godbold said there had been discussions with some neighboringlandowners about additional property acquisition. He said the cityhad received a good response.

“Everybody we’ve talked to has been willing to go along withit,” the mayor said.

So far, city officials have revised the budget by $112,000 tocover architect fees for the intermodal facility. A master plan forthe project is being developed.

“What we’ve been doing is data-gathering and getting informationon existing buildings,” said Architect Michael Barranco.

By cleaning up some property and with the new construction,Godbold forecast a big improvement for the area.

“This is going to fix up the area up there real good,” Godboldsaid.

Godbold said city officials were looking to travel to Washingtonnext month to seek additional federal funding for the facility. Hewas hoping up to an additional $4 million would be available.

Meanwhile, planning and other preparations are proceeding.

Barranco said talks with Canadian National Railroad and Amtrak,as well as Greyhound, regarding the facility are under way.Officials are also talking with the Mississippi Department ofTransportation, which is involved through a document review andcompliance standpoint.

“It’s going well,” Barranco said about facility progress.

Barranco said Phase 1 would involve some renovations to existingbuildings, train loading platforms, bus service preparations andmechanical needs.

Phase II, Barranco said, would be recreational amenities such asa museum and tour train service, while Phase III would be artists’studios and similar activities. A possible Phase IV may includeretail developments near the facility, he added.

“We’re hoping to have the plan and model finished by March,”Barranco said.

The architect estimated the model will be approximately fourfeet by eight feet. Barranco said he would be updating aldermen onprogress in about a month.

Barranco said the mayor had been adamant about controlling thebudget and costs on the project. He said the master plan sets outhow to proceed with the project as money becomes available.

“You attempt each phase as you can afford it,” Barrancosaid.