Saturday, July 16, 2005
Officials Hail New City Transit Facility
By Andrea Schoellkopf
Journal Staff Writer
The West Side's newest gated community showed off its state-of-the-art new buildings this week.
But buses not people are calling this place home.
Mayor Martin Chávez called the transit center opening "a historic moment" for the area west of the Rio Grande.
"(West Side) Albuquerqueans are no longer orphans," he said during a grand opening of the $42 million Daytona West Side Transit Facility on Thursday.
First planned 10 years ago, the structure has been little more than a mysterious patterned brick wall southwest of Interstate 40 and Unser for the last year and a half tall enough from I-40 to hide the buses as well as any clue as to what the buildings were.
Construction started two years ago, said Tim Cynova, the ABQ Ride engineering and facilities manager. It opened last year with a fuel island, bus wash and parking area, and recently added the $19 million 68,000-square-foot maintenance garage and office.
The facility will initially house 140 buses, including the city's 12 new Rapid Rides, which are extended in length and are hybrid-powered.
"We wanted to provide the city with a very functional facility," said architect Ron Burton of DWL Architects and Planners Inc.
The maintenance building includes garages illuminated by natural light and separate bay areas for the smaller vans. The larger garage boasts a lift large enough for the 65-foot-long rapid transit buses, which have two connected parts and look like an accordion.
The garages are built with radiant heat floors as is the rest of the building to keep the mechanics warm in the winter, Burton said.
City law required a 30 percent improvement in the amount of recycled water used to wash the buses compared to the transit center on Yale, Burton said.
A $17 million fourth phase will include a 96,000-square-foot canopy that can shelter up to 200 buses, and a 15,000-square-foot operations center. Currently, bus drivers operate out of a portable building next to the employee parking lot.
The Yale facility in Southeast Albuquerque was built for 80 buses more than 30 years ago but has been housing more than 150 buses. Eventually, that location will become a satellite for the West Side facility.
"It was way overcrowded," Cynova said.
The city's compressed natural gas buses will remain at the Yale location, which has the necessary fuel stop for that fleet.