BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On one side of the building, Coast Transit and Trailways buses are picking up a steady stream of passengers. On the other side, a new Chinese restaurant is serving up a hot buffet to hungry customers.
The CTA says at least 400,000 people pass through the Transit Center in downtown Biloxi every year. The facility opened in 2007.
"Absolutely, a lot of activity going on over there," CTA Director Kevin Coggin said.
Coggin said the center has been such a success, plans are in the works to build a similar transportation hub in the city of D'Iberville.
"They see the value and the benefit of public transportation to their vision of the city and their new plan, so they approached us," Coggin said.
The concept is a $10 million building that would be built in two phases. The first will be a bus terminal, surface parking, and small retail. Phase two includes a multi-level parking garage, surrounded by private retail like offices, restaurants, even housing.
The transit center would be part of French Market Square, a new town center that will be going up near Central Avenue.
"It injects a lot of people into that area as our Central Avenue redevelopment occurs and businesses return," said Jeff Taylor, D'Iberville's Interim City Manager. "It will allow folks to shop on Central Avenue. It'll be the transfer site for those on the points going to Lemoyne Boulevard and it will become a real hub."
Coggin said Congress has already approved $2.8 million for the project. He's awaiting approval of another $2 million. He says that should be enough to get the first phase started.
"It's a very attractive looking building. It's a really neat concept," he said.
The CTA also has plans to build a transit center around 13th and 14th Street in downtown Gulfport. It would have a bus terminal, parking garage, and private retail space. Coggin said the downtown area needs the facility, even though there's already a parking garage and bus terminal across from the federal courthouse.
"It's a different location and a different need," he said. "The parking garage across from the federal courthouse is so far removed from the downtown district and that whole end of town down there has been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Actually, the CTA parking facility and the courthouse are about the only things left down there. So it's going to be many years before we see development down there."
Coggin said right now, the transit project in D'Iberville is the CTA's top priority.