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Whidbey's Island Transit settles into new facilities

A mechanic works on an Island Transit bus parked in the new 34,700-square-foot maintenance facility that was part of a new headquarters project. - Nathan Whalen photo
A mechanic works on an Island Transit bus parked in the new 34,700-square-foot maintenance facility that was part of a new headquarters project.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen photo

Today’s Island Transit looks a lot different from the entity that formed in 1987 with five buses and 20 employees working out of a former auto shop that contained two maintenance bays and one restroom.

The publicly-funded transit entity currently has more than 200 vehicles and more than 140 employees who recently moved into a new headquarters facility that was mostly paid for by a federal grant.

That headquarters is located on Highway 20, south of Coupeville near the Pacific Rim Institute and Outlying Field.

Island Transit executive director Martha Rose said she hopes the new headquarters campus will serve the agency’s needs for the next 40 years to 50 years.

Officials have been lamenting for years about the state of their old headquarters building; it was small, there was only one restroom for more than 100 employees and a small number of bays made it difficult for staff to keep up with maintenance on a growing fleet of vehicles.

Most of the funding for the $22.4 million headquarters came from a $17.9 million federal State of Good Repair grant. The remaining dollars came from Island Transit.

The funding paid for the construction of a 15,400-square-foot administration building, a 34,700-square-foot maintenance facility along with a fueling facility, car wash bays and generators to power the facility during extended power outages.

There are aspects of the new facility that improve conditions for employees. Instead of the single restroom, both large buildings have restrooms and showers to accommodate Island Transit’s workforce. In addition, the administration building has a new lunchroom that includes a stove and several refrigerators and microwaves.

Rose said Island Transit’s employee association chipped in to buy fitness equipment for the employee gym.

She noted that an employee who has diabetes has already benefited from using the fitness equipment.

The Island Transit facility sits on nearly 14 acres of land located just within the confines of Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.

Island Transit is using native plants for landscaping  and failed trees from a nearby tree orchard are being used for mulch. Island Transit will be helping with a restoration project on nearby Smith Prairie that will include an interpretive project showing life on the prairie.

The maintenance bays provide an upgrade for island transit. There are 12 bays that provide enough space for staff to maintain and clean the vehicles in Island Transit’s fleet, Rose said.

Island Transit administration and operations staff moved into the new building in early June with maintenance moving in about six weeks later. Once the move was complete, the old building was destroyed to make room for a parking lot.

The public will be able to view the new headquarters during an open house currently scheduled for May 17, 2014.

 

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