Partner, other services needed to pursue complicated project

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Brookhaven officials are continuing to pursue a multi-modaltransportation facility, but recent developments are challengingtheir commitment to the complicated project.

Mayor Bob Massengill offered a brief recap of the history of theproject and updated aldermen on its current status during Tuesdaynight’s city board meeting. The mayor said the transportationfacility was the most time- and energy-consuming project he hasdealt with since taking office more than a year ago.

Among the latest developments, the mayor said, was that the citywill need a partner to make a financial commitment of at least$100,000 to the facility, clarifying the city’s costs in theproject, over $53,000 architect fees still to be paid, and findinganother transportation-related service to make the facility truly”multi-modal.” Currently, only train services have been targetedfor the facility to be located on North Railroad Avenue.

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“It’s not single modal, it’s got to be multi-modal,” Massengillsaid.

Citing a visit with Amtrak officials earlier this week,Massengill said the passenger train service could be a financialpartner. The mayor was optimistic the service could make acontribution to the project, but it could not be done now.

Massengill also discussed the facility with state transportationofficials, who are overseeing the federal funding portion of theapproximately $1 million project. Despite earlier indications thelack of a partner would not be a “deal-breaker,” the mayor saidofficials advised one would be needed.

Options mentioned to make the facility multi-modal include acitywide bus service or as a shuttle service site for people goingto Jackson or the Nissan plant. It does not appear that Greyhoundwill be relocating to the facility.

“Greyhound’s not a likelihood,” said Massengill, mentioning adiscussion with bus service officials who said revenue generatedhere does not justify a move.

Following the mayor’s update, aldermen voiced continued supportfor the project, but expressed concerns over how complicated it hasbeen and how long it has taken. Massengill said city officials didnot have all information on what would be involved when the projectwas started.

In support of the project, which involves renovation of the oldpower plant building, Ward Four Alderwoman Shirley Estes said itwould allow officials to improve and revitalize a section of thecity.

Massengill reminded aldermen that 4,000 people get on or off thetrain in Brookhaven each year. He said the transportation facilitycould help in that regard.

“If we can help that situation, we need to go forward,” themayor said.

With uncertainty over Amtrak’s financial commitment, which couldcome in the fall, Massengill was hoping to get another extension onthe city using the first portion of the federal allocation.Originally, the funds were to be used by June, but that wasextended.

“We’re supposed to be through with the project by January ’07,”Massengill said.