What's going on here? Part of new Janesville bus garage to be 'explosion-proof'

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Frank Schultz
Sunday, November 17, 2013

What is it: It's the city of Janesville's future bus garage, formally known as the Janesville Transit Services Center. The new center at 101 Black Bridge Road will replace the old center at 900 N. Parker Drive, which will be sold.

The new building will encompass 44,000 square feet, about twice the size of the current bus garage, said Dave Mumma, director of the Janesville Transit System.

Contractor: Corporate Contractors Inc. of Beloit, which is part of a family of companies that includes Hendricks Holding Co., according to its website.

Cost: CCI was awarded the bid of $6.46 million and change. The overall project cost, which includes the land and architectural and engineering fees, is $7.95 million.

Who pays: The federal government is paying more than 80 percent of the cost. Property owners in the city will pay off bonds issued to finance the rest.

“It's federal money we're bringing back to Janesville that's providing jobs, initially, and it's providing a facility that's going to be serving Janesville for the next 50 years or more,” Mumma said.

Ready for gas: The building is being constructed to accommodate a compressed natural gas fueling station.

Regulations require the room with the fueling station to be built to withstand an accidental explosion. Note the steel beams in the foreground of the photo, at the building's southwest corner.

“It must be an explosion-proof room, so it's built like a fort,” Mumma said.

The fueling/service bay and maintenance garage also have special ventilation requirements.

The city is likely to consider natural gas-fueled buses when the city does “a major fleet replacement,” but that won't be for another five years, at least, Mumma said.

The buses, some of them 11 years old, are approaching the point where they will need to be replaced, Mumma said.

The timing of a fleet replacement depends on federal funding, which now is in a state of flux. The reauthorization of federal public transit legislation is scheduled for next year, Mumma said.

Why it's better: “It provides a fully equipped, up-to-date operations and maintenance facility for the transit system,” Mumma said. “It means we are set up to have a good and modern base for our operations for decades to come. It's not something the community is going to have to go back and rebuild 10 years from now.”

The old bus garage is just barely big enough to get all the buses under one roof, Mumma said. The city's 17 buses are parked overnight in fuel bays, wash bays, maintenance bays and the center aisle.

The new building has been designed to accommodate an expansion of up to 30 buses, Mumma said.

Completion date: The most optimistic estimate is May, but weather or other problems could delay it to sometime in July, Mumma said.

Finished product: The building's exterior will be mostly a reddish-brown brick, with green trim similar to that at the bus transit center on River Street, Mumma said.

Mumma said the building will have a “modern” appearance.

The building could have looked more industrial, but: “We wanted something that looks good sitting on that corner because it makes a statement about the community,” Mumma said.

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