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MDOT grants to bolster area transportation systems

 

Mike Tagert

Mike Tagert

 

The Golden Triangle Regional Airport will use its $76,938 Mississippi Department of Transportation grant to install a new communication system.

The Golden Triangle Regional Airport will use its $76,938 Mississippi Department of Transportation grant to install a new communication system.
Photo by: Dispatch file photo

 

The Lowndes County Port received a $388,684 grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The money will be used to purchase a deck barge and excavator to support recurring dredging projects at the port.

The Lowndes County Port received a $388,684 grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation. The money will be used to purchase a deck barge and excavator to support recurring dredging projects at the port.
Photo by: Courtesy photo/mdot.ms.gov

 

 

Carl Smith

 

 

Four Golden Triangle transportation hubs and systems will receive a combined $666,761 in Mississippi Department of Transportation grants to help bolster their infrastructure and efforts, Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert announced Thursday. 

 

The Mississippi Transportation Commission recently approved the grant awards to numerous regional and municipal airports, ports, waterways, public transportation systems and railroads, and local recipients include the Columbus-Lowndes County Airport, Golden Triangle Regional Airport, Lowndes County Port and Starkville-Mississippi State University Area Rapid Transit (SMART) system. 

 

The Lowndes County Port was the recipient of the largest amount of money in the Golden Triangle, and its $388,684 grant will be used to purchase a deck barge and excavator to support recurring dredging projects at the port.  

 

Columbus-Lowndes airport will receive $229,630 to rehabilitate its maintenance hangar, and GTRA will use its $76,938 grant to install a new communication system.  

 

"Each of these modes of transportation plays a vital role in transporting people, goods and services that promote economic growth and development throughout Mississippi," Tagert said in a release. "Mississippi no longer competes regionally, but on a global level. Investing in local and municipal airports supports global economic development and logistics. Improving our ports and rail system allows appropriate amounts agricultural products to be transported in a safer, more environmentally friendly manner, while reducing maintenance costs on roads and bridges." 

 

GTRA Executive Director Mike Hainsey said the airport's new communication system will allow airport officials to interact with first responders and law enforcement agencies that are transitioning to a statewide, digital system. 

 

It will take between 30 and 45 days to draw up the specifications for bids, he said, but the airport should have the new system in place by October, when Hainsey said an emergency response exercise is planned with local responders. 

 

"Considering if there's an incident at the airport, numerous agencies will be responding. This network is needed since it allows everyone to be on the same page," he said. "The biggest thing we're focusing on with it is the terminal, which has a lot of metal on the inside. We're going to install a repeater system to make sure everything works as it's supposed to there." 

 

A $21,509 grant for the SMART system will help match the purchase cost of an additional passenger bus specifically for disabled riders and provide insurance for the vehicle. 

 

Jeremiah Dumas, MSU's director of parking and transit service, said the vehicle will soon be ordered. 

 

"The fastest-growing sector for SMART has been our paratransit program. We're averaging 250 reservations per month for people needing transportation to medical services and employment," he said. "An additional vehicle will help service those in need, and we're soon to add an additional bus to city routes that have longer wait times. 

 

"Mississippi's public transit systems play an instrumental role in providing affordable, reliable mobility options to citizens who do not own a vehicle or cannot drive," he added. "Helping these providers allows them to connect people to life's basic needs, such as family and community events, medical appointments and grocery shopping."

 

Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch

 

 

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