Trailblazer to receive up to $2.5 million for new facility

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It appears that Trailblazer Transit will have its new facility in Glencoe next year.

Trailblazer Transit Director Gary Ludwig, last week, learned that Trailblazer Transit is slated to receive up to $2.5 million of federal recovery dollars through the federal economic stimulus package. Trailblazer had hoped to receive $1.5 million.

Trailblazer Transit is one of only four projects in Greater Minnesota to be slated to receive funding. Trailblazer’s award was increased because architects determined the project couldn’t be completed for $1.5 million.

Several restrictions have been placed on the funding by the state. The new facility must be geared to put all of Trailblazer’s resources under one roof. At this time, Trailblazer has a dispatch center and garage in Gaylord, a separate garage and dispatch center in Hutchinson and a garage in Glencoe.

The property offered by Glencoe is on the west side of town, along Highway 22. It is jointly owned by the City and state. There is a maintenance shop and salt shed on the property.

According to Ludwig, the Minnesota Department of Transportation also stated that because of Trailblazer’s high quality service, they were sure that Trailblazer would only use the money that it needed and that the McLeod and Sibley County transit service was fiscally responsible.

The funds are awarded by the Minnesota Department of Transportation to the most worthwhile projects, Ludwig said. Trailblazer Transit has had 13 facilities in nine years, he said.

How does Trailblazer Transit proceed to obtain the funds?

Trailblazer Transit must now apply to the Federal Transit Administration, Chicago office, for the funding by April 15. Ludwig said he plans to submit the application this week. The federal review is expected to take 30 days and anticipates it being completed in early May. This application involves an outline of the project to make sure that it is viable. The project must also be cleared through the State Historical Preservation Office. Soil borings must also be completed.

After the federal review is successfully completed, two requests for proposals must be completed – first for an architect and the other to secure bids for contractors.

Ludwig said that construction would begin this winter. The construction is expected to take nine months.

McLeod County and Trailblazer Transit Attorney Mike Junge is now working on securing a 99 year lease for two acres of land from Glencoe and the State of Minnesota.

Trailblazer Transit is also exploring the possibility of hiring a project manager for the construction.

Trailblazer Transit’s Joint Powers Board, Thursday, approved hiring a full-time dispatcher to help with the paper work. It also approved hiring two part-time drivers.

In addition to the facility project, Trailblazer Transit is also in the testing phase of computerized dispatching software. Ludwig said it is hoped to convert to the computerized dispatching and scheduling software within the next two months.

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