After a decade, Janesville transit center plan gaining traction

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Marcia Nelesen
Saturday, October 20, 2012

— A decade.

That’s about how much time, in total, will have passed before a new transit facility gets up and running in Janesville.

The city began in earnest to replace its building at 900 N. Parker Drive beginning in 2004, said John Whitcomb, operations director for the city.

Now, with the $7.95 million in funding—mostly federal—finally in hand, the city should break ground this spring at the corner of Black Bridge Road and Parker Drive. Construction should take about a year, Whitcomb said.

About 84 percent of the cost—$6.64 million—comes from the federal government and about 16 percent—$1.31 million—will be picked up by the city.

The $7.95 million includes costs for the site and its preparation, construction, equipment and architectural and engineering services.

The base bid of the building is 46,444 square feet. Depending on the bids, the council could decide to add up to another 6,446 square feet.

On Monday, Whitcomb will give city council members a presentation and ask them to authorize letting out bids for the project.

To date, the city has borrowed $875,000 for the project, and it must borrow another $435,000 to fulfill its share. Part of the federal money came from stimulus funds that must be spent by Sept. 30, 2013, or lost.

The building is designed to accommodate expansion and should meet transit needs for 40 years or more, Whitcomb said. The existing facility was built in two stages in 1961 and 1979.

A building committee to help design the new facility was formed to include a council member, a resident of the nearby neighborhood, staff and a city consultant. The members were especially conscious of the building’s aesthetics because the building is so visible, Whitcomb said.

The design uses features and colors similar to the bus transfer center on River Street. The city also has repeated those elements in new bus shelters, Whitcomb said.

The committee also wanted to minimize the operation’s impact on the nearby neighborhood, so much of the activity is oriented to the east side. Buses will enter at the access to the compost site off Black Bridge Road. There will be no access from Highway 15.

In 2005, staff estimated the facility would cost about $5 million, but construction costs have risen oven the years, Whitcomb said. In addition, more earth moving than was originally planned will have to be done on the sloped site.

Also, the garage was expanded to allow angled rather than the stacked parking in the current building. The city has 17 buses, and stacked parking would build in some operational inefficiencies because staff must move equipment from one place to another, Whitcomb said.

Members also considered energy-efficient features such as natural lighting to reduce the need for daytime lighting. The walls and roofs are highly insulated.

Paybacks for geothermal and solar energy systems all exceeded 25 years and were not recommended, Whitcomb said. Staff continues to consider the use of a waste oil heating system.

Whitcomb said the building is more than just vehicle storage. It’s a service station, an office and a public reception area, he said. The least costly portion is the bus storage area.

Costs especially tick up in the bus maintenance area, where equipment includes overhead cranes and in-ground lifts. An indoor bus wash will end problems caused by winter use of the outdoor system at the existing facility.

The city plans to sell the existing facility, and the federal government likely will qualify for a share of the sale.

Last updated: 4:48 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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