Those who visited the Washougal School District’s former ‘bus barn,’ might conclude that it was aptly named.
The 70-year-old structure on “E” Street was leaky, drafty and badly in need of upgrades.
A new transportation facility was one of the earmarked projects on a 2015 voter-approved Capital Facilities Bond. The $2.3 million project, completed in late March, is located behind the district office at 4875 Evergreen Way.
As frequently seems to be the case with something new, there have been transitions, but most are positive, according to Jesse Miller, transportation supervisor.
“This location and facility are better in many ways,” he said. “It has increased safety, productivity and convenience. There is more room for buses, and it is much easier to park and secure them here. This increases fleet safety, as well as leaving room for future growth.”
The new facility includes more than 5,000 square feet of space, and features three indoor and one outdoor maintenance bay for bus service and repair. There is office space for bus dispatchers and onsite parking. At the old building, parking was scarce and office space was crammed into a few small corners throughout the building.
According to Miller, the district also has room to route more buses, which increases efficiency.
“The ‘E’ Street location was surrounded by residential neighbors,” he says. “It was on a busy street and with buses coming and going, we would cause congestion there four times a day.
With two ways to enter and exit, impacts to traffic are less noticeable.
“This is not only a convenience for us, but also the many patrons in town that have supported this much needed improvement,” Miller says.
The building was designed by BBL Architects and constructed by PHI Construction.
“So far, things have gone very well,” says Joe Steinbrenner, maintenance director. “We are proud of this facility and know that it is fulfilling the commitment made to voters.”
During the construction process, some neighbors expressed concerns about the bus facility lighting in the east parking lot impacting their homes. The district worked with PHI Construction to add extra shielding around the lights so beams are now directed down, rather than over.