School/county transportation center to cost $5.5M-$7M
The Gloucester School Board got its first look Tuesday at a study in preparation for a combined school division/county vehicle fleet maintenance center.
The study is about 50 percent complete, according to architect Richard Corner of Hudson and Associates, who made the presentation at the T.C. Walker Education Center.
Corner estimated the cost of the transportation center construction project at about $5.5 to $7 million, depending on which one of three potential sites is chosen for the facility.
He said the present school division transportation center was built in 1966 and described the working conditions it provides as mediocre or substandard. He said the county is in an even worse situation with its vehicle maintenance facility.
Corner also said that a drawdown on manpower by both the school division and the county led the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office to move its transportation maintenance needs to outside businesses. He said the new facility could also service the GSO fleet.
The new facility could serve buses and larger equipment, Corner said, while the present bus garage could be used for maintenance on cars and SUVs.
“It’s a possibility, but it probably wouldn’t pay off. It makes sense to maintain all of this under one roof. You gain efficiency and can get more work done with the staff you have,” he said of a consolidated facility.
Corner said a 36-foot, standard school bus barely fits into the bay at the present bus garage. He said the new facility would be big enough to allow for a larger 40-foot bus, which could help with overcrowded bus routes. He said a taller building will also allow more room to pull a bus engine or transmission for repair.
Corner said the combined facility would require a minimum size of 22,550 square feet and estimated the cost at $3,912,500, excluding site development costs.
Three sites for the facility are being considered. Corner said the site of the present bus garage would be the least expensive to develop at $1,500,000, excluding costs to improve the T.C. Walker Road/Route 17 intersection, which he said would be desirable but expensive.
He said the present site had adequate acreage for a consolidated operation and would leave the Route 17 frontage intact, but noted the parcel fronting Route 17 would be smaller. The total cost of putting the facility at this site, outside of the exclusions, would be $5,412,500.
Corner also looked at the site of the new Page Middle School, which has room for two additional schools. He said the facility could be placed to the right of the present school, and would take up one of the two additional school sites. Corner said it would not impact the existing middle school.