|Standing in one of four bays in the new HUSD Transportation and Maintenance Facility are, from left, Maintenance Director Ben Peters, Project Manager Ken Johnson, Transportation Director Kim Porter, and Supt. Henry Schmitt.|
Trib Photo/Sue Tone
Humboldt Unified School District Governing Board member Scott Paulsen described his visit this past week to the new HUSD "bus barn" to fellow board members.
"Outside it looks like a bus barn. Inside it looks like the White House," Paulsen said, adding that he wishes he could work there.
The new Transportation and Maintenance Facility and parking lot located northeast of the Bradshaw Mountain High School East campus encompasses 17,500 square feet of a 22.5-acre site, and includes a training room that can accommodate 200 people.
The grand opening completes a project that began in 2006 after voters approved the $41 million B Bond that helped pay for construction of the $4.4 million building.
The 17,500-square-foot facility houses four drive-through bays, dispatch office, smaller conference room, storage areas, video viewing room, and men's and women's locker rooms complete with shower and four stalls each.
District board members and administrators toured the building after a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday morning before convening into a board meeting and work-study session in the training room.
"It's like a dream come true," said Transportation Director Kim Porter.
She has already scheduled CPR and First Aid Training classes for the meeting room, in addition to an Arizona Dept. of Education meeting in September and a Special Services meeting in November.
The conference room and office space are air-conditioned, Porter said, a welcome relief from the older building north of Liberty Traditional School where she had a tiny, cramped office packed with filing cabinets and boxes and cooled with an older evaporative system. Porter's new office has a window that looks out onto the bus parking lot.
The district was able to upgrade the lot from asphalt to concrete because of "valued pricing." The original estimated cost in 2006 was about $6.5 million, but actual costs in the current economy resulted in about $1.5 million under the estimated figure, HUSD Supt. Henry Schmitt said.
"This allowed the district to upgrade the bus parking lot from asphalt to concrete at a cost of $325,000," he said.
The cost savings also permitted the district to install $10,000 worth of internal security systems and $22,000 for external cameras and security system similar to that used at Sky Harbor Airport, Schmitt said. A 10-foot perimeter fence surrounds the lot, which the district will also use for Arizona Dept. of Transportation training.
The lot has capacity for 100 buses - the district owns 72 - and each bus lane has an engine block heater.
"This is a fuel-saving item as the buses just need to be plugged in overnight to heat the engines rather than starting them and letting them run until the engines are warmed up," Schmitt said.
Other savings will start rolling in soon from companies such as Arizona Public Service, said Project Manager Ken Johnson. The restrooms use low-flow commodes and waterless urinals, worth about $23,000 in credit from APS.
The state-of-the-art lighting falls under a new construction grant, also through APS, Johnson said. A large oil storage tank will result in better pricing, and a new Fleet Fuel Card System knocks a cent off previous fuel delivery prices.
The former bus barn used underground storage tanks. The district removed those tanks yesterday, and demolished the old building Monday.
"These days, underground tanks need to be bomb resistant," Johnson said.
United Fuel and Energy submitted the winning bid for the fuel system that also offers computer software that tracks miles per gallon and cost per mile by bus and route, which will contribute to the district's goal of efficient energy use.
Johnson said about 50 percent of the district's equipment came to the new building. B Bond money paid for any equipment bolted to the floor, such as the two lifts and the tire changer and balancer. This also saves the district money, as it farmed out some of the work in the past that will be done in-house now.
While B Bond money also paid for technical infrastructure, the district's budget will cover computers and other non-solid anchored equipment.
The parking lot for employees and visitors can handle 100 vehicles, which the high school can use for athletic events when the school re-opens with increased enrollment.
Traffic congestion at Robert Road should not be an issue, Schmitt said, as the buses come in early and return later than the Bright Futures preschool and alternative classes at BMHS East.