Workers making room for new Janesville bus garage

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Neil Johnson
Tuesday, April 9, 2013

— What’s with all the trees being cut and cleared from the land on the northeast side of Highway 51 and Black Bridge Road?

The work is making space for the future Janesville Transit System Bus Operations and Service Center, City Operations Director John Whitcomb said. It’s also part of the park district’s annual tree-clearing service.

The old city bus garage along Parker Drive is old, in “sad shape” and doesn’t meet today’s service needs for the transit system, Whitcomb said.

Whitcomb said a new facility, which could cost $8 million and be over 40,000 square feet, would be larger and provide for future growth in the 18-bus fleet. The transit system predicts a need for more buses based on estimated growth in city population and bus riders.

The city purchased the land in 2004, Whitcomb said. The city plans to sell the current garage once it’s vacated.

The bus garage project is out for bids and could be under construction by June, Whitcomb said.

As of late last year, the city had borrowed $875,000 for the bus garage, and it must borrow another $435,000 to fulfill its share of funding.

Federal stimulus money would pay for a sizeable share of the project if funding is approved this year.

Whitcomb said the service center would include administrative and management offices, bus storage and maintenance areas that would be more “advanced” and would allow the transit system to use emerging “forward-looking” technologies such as natural gas-powered vehicles.

Whitcomb said safety features in the facility would include separate welding and fabrication work areas and an advanced heating exchange system that would “take into account the lighter than air (and more volatile) nature of compressed gas.”

Building for natural-gas powered vehicles would add logistical consideration and costs, but Whitcomb said it could be less costly to incorporate those features now so “we won’t have to go back and spend large amounts of money retrofitting the building.”

Meanwhile, residents are being allowed to take away oak and cherry wood being felled at the site to make room for the bus garage.

Last updated: 10:27 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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