TIGER grant funds a boon to local development
Wimbish leaves on a high note with multimillion- dollar deal
The TIGER IV is in place and the rush is on. With all the details finally coming together, the West Memphis City Council voted last Thursday to accept a $10 million federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER IV) grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation. The funds will create a 44-acre transload facility in the city. A resolution was read out and affirmed by the council to accept the grant, upgrade the city-owned Friday Graham industrial rail line, and under separate ordinances approved making two land purchases across South Loop Road from the Port of West Memphis.
Mayor Bill Johnson wanted quick action to acquire the ground for the new facility. One deal for a 20-acre subdivision cost $1.2 million. Another 24.28 acre lot will sell for $849,900. Both real estate deals were required to site the Multi-modal yard project next to the port.
The city’s Friday Graham rail spur, named for a railroad executive and an attorney specializing in railroad law, needs improvements to meet emerging standards for heavy rail traffic to make the new facility attractive and competitive for the near foreseeable future.
Johnson appreciated the gravity of the long awaited award placing an exclamation point at the end of the career for Economic Development Director Ward Wimbish on his last day on the job in West Memphis.
“This is the acceptance of the TIGER IV grant that we’ve been wrestling with for almost four years,” Johnson said to City Council. “We’ve jumped through all the hoops. This is a 100 percent grant with no match. I keep stressing that, because you don’t get many of those.”
“These purchases are essential to the development of our trans-load facility being built adjacent to our port,” said Johnson. “The TIGER grant is 100 percent funding. The process is we have to pay for the property and submit for reimbursement. The total project will be about $9,500,000 and be a great addition to the city.
The trans-load facility when completed will be a great addition to the port.”
City Councilwoman Ramona Taylor expressed gratitude to Wimbish for landing the grant and lead City Council in a round of applause.
“Let’s take this time to thank Ward Wimbish for his time of service and for the work and time to get this TIGER grant approved,” said Taylor.
By John Rech