City’s public transit plan rolling|[10/29/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 28, 2005

The City of Vicksburg put its plan for a public transportation system into motion Friday.

The board authorized the mayor to execute a contract agreement with the Mississippi Transportation Commission for non-urbanized area public transportation assistance.

Mayor Laurence Leyens said the agreement is &#8220locking in earmarked money for public transportation.”

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He said the city is running out of time to use the money that has been allotted to create a public transportation system. Leyens said the city has set up bank accounts for the funds and will begin putting the money together so that buses can be purchased.

&#8220It obligates their funds for our purposes,” Leyens said.

He said the funding for the public transportation system will come from four sources: federal, state and city governments and private industry.

Wayne Mansfield, city planner, said the federal government has given the city $488,000 for capital purchases.

&#8220We decided to use that money to buy the buses,” Mansfield said.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has committed an 80/20 match grant and a 50/50 grant. Mansfield said the state will fund 80 percent and the city will come up with 20 percent of capital purchases such as the bus stops. Included in this fund is the salary for Evelyn Bumpers, the new executive director of the transportation system.

Mansfield said Bumpers will be paid $27,500 for six months to oversee the creation of the local public transportation system. The state will pay $22,000 of her salary while the city will cover the other $5,500.

The 50/50 grant is for reoccurring administrative costs.

Mansfield said city officials still plan to have buses by the beginning of March 2006.

Leyens said the city has received a verbal commitment from several local industries committing almost $400,000.

Leyens said the city plans to order six buses with bike racks and handicap accessibility. There will be five routes. Three of the routes will be on 30 minute loops. Flexible routes will be available to the handicapped.

The proposed cost to ride the buses will be $1.50 each way.

Leyens said the specific routes have not been defined, but all five routes will go through downtown. There will be stops at Pemberton Square, River Region Medical Center, the Harbor Project, LeTourneau, Anderson Tully, Clay Street and Washington Street.

Also during the meeting, the City Board adopted a resolution authorizing to establish just compensation and sign certification for the sewer improvement project.

Mansfield said the city is going to extend its sewer line into areas annexed a decade ago that include land on U.S. 61 South, parts of Warrenton Road and areas around Redbone Road.

Mansfield said the properties the city wants to put its utilities on has been appraised and with the resolution, the city certified the values were obtained to purchase the easements.

&#8220We have to appraise the easements and offer property owners money for the acquisition of the easements Mansfield said.

In other business the Board: