Island Transit seeks 2013 project completion

Island Transit executive director Martha Rose and project coordinator Pete Schrum tour the construction site. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Island Transit executive director Martha Rose and project coordinator Pete Schrum tour the construction site.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

The attention-catching mounds of dirt at Island Transit headquarters south of Coupeville will eventually come down.

Those large mounds will be eventually knocked down and used for new landscaping around the agency’s new headquarters off Highway 20.

“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. They will be used for berms and that will help shield the administrative building, maintenance building, large parking lot and fueling center from motorists driving on the highway.

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 theme 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.

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.

The new headquarters has to be big enough to meet Island Transit’s needs for 20 years, Rose said.

Island Transit’s current building was constructed in the 1970s. The building has become cramped and the maintenance area isn’t large enough for the agency’s ever-expanding fleet.  There are currently a couple of maintenance bays available to service the approximately 100 vehicles.

Transit officials have been trying for years to build a new headquarters facility. Plans weren’t able to move forward until Island Transit received a $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 2013.

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 of 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. Some residents wanted a left-turn lane from the highway that would go to the proposed road.

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 the county.

Once the new headquarters is built and staff have moved in, the current headquarters building, which Rose said was built in the 1970s, will be demolished.

That demolition is something Rose said she is looking forward to.

She gets to take the first swing with the wrecking ball, she said.


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