Grand opening held for new Intermodal Center

Published 2:12 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

After months of set backs, Picayune’s Intermodal Center held its ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning.

The initial opening date for the center was set for January, but a few snags caused delays.

“It really hadn’t been in a timely manner. There’s been set backs,” said Mayor Greg Mitchell.

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After the ceremonial ribbon cutting, the public got to tour the new building with its museum, waiting area and conference room. Most of the furniture is in the depot but some more is coming. Council member Jerry Bounds said Picayune Main Street purchased the benches in the waiting area. City Operations Manager Diane Miller said some glass cabinets are still to be constructed in the museum, and will also be funded by Picayune Main Street.

Construction on those cabinets will begin soon, said Rick Cagle. He said he will custom build the cabinets according to what items are donated for display.

Three collectors are donating a number of items for display in the museum once it is completed, including items from Lynn Crosby Gammill, Miller said. Items already slated for the collection are Shay whistles, a green chalk board from Picayune’s first train depot and some historic pictures.

Services to be offered at the center are still under consideration. The city council is scheduled to decide on those matters in executive session at its next meeting on Tuesday, Miller said.

Another item for city council consideration will be who will keep the center open and for what hours each day. Operation of the center will begin on a trial basis this week to gather information about how many passengers use the center. That information will be presented at the next council meeting, Miller said.

Amtrak Media Relations Manager Marc Magliari said the station has two options for people to purchase tickets for the train. The city can set up an ATM-type machine that will allow passengers to purchase tickets, or, if the traffic in the center increases enough, a ticket office could manned.

Miller said the city will begin with the ATM machine, which should soon be in operation.

Bus travel will not be offered at the center at this time since Greyhound buses do not currently stop in Picayune. Miller said that sometime in 2005 the city received a letter from the bus company stating that fuel costs would cause the company to cease service in Picayune, Poplarville and Lumberton. A letter to request the continuation of the service has been sent to the company and the city is awaiting a response.

Picayune has had a number of train stations. The first was built in 1880 and stood until 1936. Another depot was built on U.S. 11 at the corner of West Canal, said Picayune historian David Stockstill. The old pavilion, now torn down, was adjacent to where the new center is located and was built in 1971, Stockstill said.

Now that the new center is operational, if only on a trial basis at press time, visitors to Picayune will be treated to a new Intermodal Center.

“We’re very pleased to have a new front door to Picayune,” Magliari said.