CARBONDALE (WSIL) — Back in 1992, the Jackson County Board created a mass transportation system to help thousands of residents get to their destinations easier.
Since going into operation in 2002, the Jackson County Mass Transit District has helped serve an average of 100,000 riders each year.
Here in 2019, the agency is now in the planning stages of constructing a new operations, storage and maintenance building with help from a grant by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Operations manager Jimmy Leadingham says the JCMTD will receive $2.5 million to construct the new facility that will replace the current, cramped location at 602 E. College St. in Carbondale.
"We’re pretty much busting at the seams," Leadingham said. "We have three upper management offices, we have our dispatchers so we’re very limited on space as of right now."
Each time a bus breaks down, Leadingham says it would have to be towed to get repaired. With the new facility, Leadingham says it will allow the agency to add an in-house mechanic to work on any damaged buses immediately.
But building the facility is going to take time, according to Jeffery Drake, the operations manager at Rides Mass Transit District who’s overseeing the project.
Drake says constructing the new building could create up to 70 jobs. He hopes it will result in the extension of services to areas outside of Carbondale.
We want to continue to reach out to the rural portions of Jackson County," Drake said. "Anytime you can help improve the infrastructure, the facilities and buses go a long way with that."
Officials are still looking for a location for the proposed facility in hopes of having it completed within the next two years.