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Delta Bridge Funding to Start New Public Transportation System in Phillips County
HELENA-WEST HELENA, AR -Dr. Steven Murray, Chairman of the Delta Bridge Project Steering Committee, today announced $116,000 in grant funding to the Mid-Delta Community Services to establish a public transportation system in Helena-West Helena. This grant will be accompanied by a $15,000 grant from the Helena Health Foundation. Mid-Delta will operate two CitiLink routes: a Blue Route running in a clockwise direction and a Green Route running counter clockwise. The routes differ in their flow through residential areas but largely follow Highway 49B and the Highway 49 Bypass. Short “stub” runs will be made to provide service to selected high volume traffic sites such as Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, Helena Regional Medical Center, the Delta Area Health Education Center (AHEC) located in the Helena Health Foundation Wellness Center, and local grocery stores. The routes will have several bus stops and at least four bus shelters. Fares are expected to start at $1. The service is expected to be operational by February.
“In partnership with the Delta Bridge Project and Helena Health Foundation, we are pleased to expand transit services presently operated by Mid-Delta with the addition of CitiLink, a fixed route service for Helena-West Helena citizens,” said Margaret Staub, Director of Mid-Delta Community Services. “This will assist many people in the Helena-West Helena area overcome obstacles they face with rising gas prices to reach vitally needed services.”
“The CitiLink service is important because a large percentage of citizens of Helena-West Helena currently lack access to transportation,” Murray said. â€œCitiLink will provide many residents with opportunities for education, employment, health care, and involvement in the community. It’s one more important step forward for the Delta Bridge Project.”
The Delta Bridge Project is a comprehensive community development initiative in Phillips County. The goals of the Delta Bridge Project are outlined in the Phillips County Strategic Community Plan, which was developed by over 300 Phillips County residents during an 18-month strategic planning process. The CitiLink service will directly address a strategic development goal identified by the community in this document.
“There is a dire need for medical transportation in Phillips County,” said Dr. Parthasarathy Vasudevan, Executive Director of the Helena Health Foundation. “This project gives us an opportunity to partner with other organizations, while at the same time fulfilling the mission of the Helena Health Foundation to assist the indigent and the aged population with their transportation needs.”
Helena-West Helena Mayor James Valley also praised the project.
“The CitiLink service is great news for the citizens of this community,” Valley said. “Because of our high poverty rate, there is a great need for citizens to be able to get to jobs, health clinics, and other services for a reasonable price. I think the service will also spur economic development by helping retailers. I thank Margaret Staub and her staff at Mid-Delta Community Services for the great work they’ve done for years and for this project. I think this project will have a great impact on the city of Helena-West Helena.”
Mid-Delta Community Services is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has operated in Phillips County since 1966 and has experience in providing special purpose transportation services, including a “dial a ride” program and Medicaid transportation.
The Delta Bridge Project is spearheaded by Southern Financial Partners, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit lender and community development organization founded in 1986.
Southern Good Faith Fund, Southern Financial Partners, and Southern Property Corporation are affiliates of Southern Bancorp, a $500 million rural development bank holding company working to transform rural economies by stimulating investments in people, jobs, businesses, and property with banking operations in Arkansas and Mississippi.