dotThe Iowa Transportation Commission approved more than $1.6 million in funding this week for five public transit projects.

Transit program administrator Ryan Ward says one project is the first of its kind funded by a state grant. The $84,000 will buy a solar array for the Delaware, Dubuque, and Jackson County Regional Transit Authority based in Dubuque.

“They did quite a bit of research and provided quite a bit of documentation on what the cost savings would be over time, and with the initial cost of purchasing equipment and installing it, it is going to be a money saver over the lifetime of the building,” Ward says. The solar panels will provide all of the electricity for the building. He says they were looking for a way to reduce their energy costs and improve the quality of the facility. The estimated costs savings over a 25-year period is $139,100.

The North Iowa Area Regional Transit System based in Mason City received a $600,000 grant for a parking facility. “They have quite a few buses that are parked outside in a little enclosed chain link area. With the wear and tear from the weather, they are looking for an enclosed facility which would keep them out of the weather — which would ultimately increase their useful life and keep them on the road longer,” Ward says.

The Burlington Urban Service won a grant of $480,000 for building improvements. He says the Amtrack station is in a rundown facility and they want to improve the facility and it will also be a transit stop. “So these funds are just going to be to rehabilitate the entire inside of the facility, and then to replace the whole roof,” Ward explains. The Sioux City transit system is getting a grant of $110,800 to fix its bus shelters.

“The shelters in Sioux City are currently in a little bit of a rough shape,” Ward says. He says they are looking at fixing up the shelters and replacing the ones that are unfixable, will making it easier to maintain them. He says there are various shelters in the city. Ward says the metal shelters have glass in them and some of the glass has been broken. The funds will help fix them up. He says the updated shelters will keep bus riders out of the elements.

“But also, having nice shelters is good for the marketing of the transit service,” Ward says. The Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority won a grant of $369,000 to fix one of its buildings. The state grants fund 80 percent of the projects, with a 20 percent match in local funds.