MACOMB — The long-awaited bus shelter and pad project broke ground at several locations throughout town over the past week.
The transit authority reported at its regular meeting last Friday that it would begin installation on a number of concrete bus pads and shelters. According to Nathan Cobb, the MCPT director, digging began at six locations and concrete was poured at two locations off Wheeler street.
Shelters are being built near Western Mobile Home Park, Pullman Apartments, Western Illinois University’s Horrabin Hall, Edison Apartments, Rotary Park on West Jackson Street, Hy-Vee Food Store, Prairie View Housing, the Village at Wheeler, and Catch-A-Star Learning Center. Two of the locations required grading with concrete, and the sidewalk had to be torn up and re-poured.
“They’re moving along quickly,” he said, adding that he believes the digging and concrete pours will be complete by the end of this week. He also said there will be an 18-week delay on the shelters themselves due to high demand. The authority has two shelters, but may wait to install them until the others are available in August.
Macomb Mayor Mike Inman asked about the possibility of using the shelters to advertise. Ketra Russell, who assists with the Go West side of the bus operation, said the avenue to advertise is available, but any advertising would have to be managed to comply with local codes.
Dennis Moon expressed concern with vandalism at the shelters. Cobb responded that there had been one or two instances of graffiti but no major issues. “We’ve never had much vandalism,” he said, but added they were considering installing security cameras at the downtown transit center.
The transit authority had begun plans for new shelters in 2014, and had secured state approval. However, the onset of the budget crisis prompted a delay of three years. MCPT re-approached the state with an updated project, and was awarded this past February.
Also at the meeting, Russell reported that the application deadline for the Go West mechanic position has been extended to May 1. On the topic of routes, she said there would be some adjustments to routes next semester that were “not anything drastic, just maybe a turn or two.”
Some stops and turns will change due to the nature of the new shelter at the Hy-Vee. The bus will no longer stop in front of the building, but will stop on East Carroll between the Aldi and the Hy-Vee.
Cobb also reported that some changes are coming through the Federal Transit Authority. Inspections of the transit facility will now need to be done every three years.
He also said items over $50,000 would have to be assessed. The inspections and assessments are part of a resource tracking process called the Transit Asset Management Plan, which the FTA is implementing to keep a handle on aging equipment and structures.
The information will tie in with a website with CDL driver information as part of a “universal database that employers could go check and find out if…a driver’s ever had issues with drug and alcohol testing, or issues like that,” he said.
Currently, companies hiring a new employee will have to request that information from former employers. “This system will allow all that to be uploaded - and require it to be uploaded - into it,” he said.
MCPT is going to be taking part in the development of the TAMP, he said. “If you have under 100 buses in your fleet, then you can be part of a group plan. So the state’s paying for an agency to put together a group plan on behalf of all the smaller agencies.” MCPT has under 100 buses in its fleet.  Agencies with over 100 buses are required to write their own TAMP.
MCPT is one of the only rural systems with a fixed route bus system. “However,… Peoria, Champaign and Bloomington, I believe, are all going to be part of the state plan. So my concern was that our heavier-duty vehicles wouldn’t really fit the plan of these smaller rurals, because they’re mainly minivans and medium-duty vehicles. Knowing that Champaign and Peoria are in there, we’ll have a better voice in helping put together the plan.”
The transit authority is still awaiting a quote on midi-flyer buses it is hoping to purchase to replace some of its aging fleet. He hopes to have more information by the next meeting at 9 a.m. on May 11.

Reach Michelle Langhout by email at mlanghout@mcdonoughvoice.com or find her on Facebook.