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SPRINGDALE -- Ozark Regional Transit will use a $2.9 million federal grant to build a new administration and operations center.

"Third time is the charm, I guess is the best way to put it," said Joel Gardner, the transit's executive director. "It's the third time we have attempted to make an application to replace this building and we finally got it. Perseverance works."

On the agenda

The Ozark Regional Transit Board of Directors will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Northwest Arkansas Regional Planning Commission office, 1311 Clayton St. in Springdale. The agenda includes more discussion of the $2.9 million federal grant for a new administration building, an audit report and discussion of an asset management plan.

Source: Staff report

The grant is from the Department of Transportation. Regional transit's land on Robinson Avenue on Springdale's west side is being used as a local match for the grant, Gardner said.

Ozark Regional's grant application also sought money to build a natural gas refueling facility but that was not included in the federal grant.

"We got the administrative facility. Personally, if I was told you have to pick one or the other, I would have picked the administrative facility," Gardner said. "The facility we are in is old and it needs rehabilitation or replacement, so we got enough to do the replacement of this facility and it looks like we'll start working on it right away."

Gardner said the new building will be big enough to house staff and operations for years to come.

"I'm looking at a 30-year building, something that we can grow and develop into over the next 30 years and make sure that we can provide the employees with an area that they can be effective out of," Gardner said.

He said support from U.S. Rep. Steve Womack and U.S. Sen. John Boozman and their staffs was instrumental in getting the grant approved.

"Without their support on the legislative side, I really don't think we'd ever get any of these grants," Gardner said.

Demand for grants from the Federal Transportation Administration's Buses and Bus Facilities Infrastructure Investment Program far exceeded available funds, according to a news release. The administration received applications for 339 eligible projects totaling about $2 billion in funding requests, from 255 applicants in 51 states and territories.

In April, Ozark Regional Transit received a $3.6 million federal grant to replace some of the 20 buses destroyed in a January 2017 fire.

Ozark Regional received eight new buses in January. They were purchased with $114,000 from an insurance settlement and two federal grants of about $360,000 each. The new buses cost about $120,000 each.

The transit used a fleet of loaned and borrowed buses to maintain service through most of last year.

NW News on 09/26/2018

Print Headline: ORT scores $3 million grant for new center

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