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Island Transit officials looking forward to new digs

One thing is for sure when Island Transit’s new headquarters is complete, officials want to help knock the current, cramped building down.

Island Transit Executive Director Martha Rose said she wants to make the first swing of the wrecking ball that will help demolish the agency’s longtime home that isn’t large enough to deal with the agency’s expanding fleet. The current building was constructed in the 1970s and isn’t large enough to meet the agency’s growing needs.

Workers are currently constructing a 15,000-square-foot administration and operations center that will include offices, training area, a dispatch center and room for information technology. Construction is also underway for a maintenance building with 12 bus bays.

Rose said the new headquarters campus is large enough to meet the agency’s needs for 20 years.

Motorists driving on Highway 20 by the construction site are sure to have noticed the large mounds of dirt that workers have made.

Those large mounds will be eventually knocked down and used for new landscaping around the agency’s new headquarters.

“We’re going to re-use it,” Martha Rose, Island Transit’s executive director said about the mounds of dirt that is soil from the construction site. The mounds are covered to prevent unwanted weeds from sprouting and will be used for berms to help shield the administrative building, maintenance building, large parking lot and fueling center from passing motorists.

Island Transit’s headquarters is located within the confines of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. Rose said Island Transit staff worked closely with the National Park Service to come up with a suitable design. The buildings were designed to look like large barns and the campus has been designed with a them that Rose describes as a “melodic fog.”

The plans for the new Island Transit headquarters were approved by the county’s Historic Review Committee, Rose said.

Transit officials have been trying for years to build a new headquarters facility. Plans weren’t able to move forward until Island Transit received $17.92 million grant awarded by the Federal Transit Authority’s “State of Good Repair” program. Everson-based Tiger Construction is building the facility. Construction began in April and it is scheduled to wrap up in summer of 2014.

Rose said the project is currently on time and on budget.

One question that remains is how the agency’s secondary access will be incorporated into surrounding roads.

Martha Rose said plans were originally in place to close the intersections Parker Road and Old Smith Prairie Road with Highway 20. The agency would build a new road between the two intersections. Plans changed, however, when nearby residents voiced concerns about the safety of the new intersection. The Washington State Department of Transportation is currently looking at options for the area. A public meeting will take place to inform residents about the options, but that meeting hasn’t been scheduled yet.

Rose said the secondary access is a requirement Island Transit has to meet for its occupancy permit from Island County.

 

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