Huge Transportation Center a big dream come true

MARYSVILLE – Dream Big is a theme you hear all over the Marysville School District.

John Bingham and Jim Baker stand next to a lift big enough for a school bus or fire engine. It is part of the huge new $11 million Transportation Center for the Marysville School District.

MARYSVILLE – Dream Big is a theme you hear all over the Marysville School District.

“Dreams do come true,” district finance director Jim Baker said.

Baker long has wanted to have a state-of-the-art, centrally located Transportation Center for the district. His dream became a reality, thanks to the Lakewood School District and the state of Washington. The district now has a 37,816 square foot shop and office building at 4302 134th St. NE. Of the $10,756,368 cost, the state paid for $8,156.368. The local part, $2.6 million, actually was left over from a bond passed in 2008 to build Marysville Getchell High School and Grove Elementary School. So voters didn’t have to approve any extra funds to build the facility.

Marysville can thank Lakewood for the state funds because a law passed years says that districts working together can get 90 percent funding on transportation facilities, as long as other criteria also are met.

“We would not have qualified without them,” Baker said. “With their cooperation we took full advantage” of that law.

To compare, the state will only pitch in 25 percent for a school, Baker added.

The district hopes that other public entities also will come on board and use the center. For example, Baker said the lifts are big enough for a fire truck. The district hope the Tulalip Tribes and other cities will come on board. The more others use the facilities, including a huge meeting room available to the public, the more funds will be brought in to help the district with its finances.

The facility offers a variety of services. A bus wash is one of the standout features. Instead of a bus driver spending an hour or so cleaning a bus, the driver can go through the automated bus wash in three to five minutes.

“It’s a huge time saver,” Baker said, adding it also reuses 80 percent of its water, “so we don’t waste water like the old one did.”

There’s also a wand-wash area where drivers can clean the underside so there’s “less gunk of them,” said John Bingham, who oversees the center.

With cleaner buses and other district vehicles, Baker said the hope is they will last longer as problems are seen earlier. The district already keeps buses beyond their expected life cycle because they cost $110,000 each.

Baker said it will be tough to improve on their already spotless record, but cleaner vehicles also could mean better safety inspections. The state patrol randomly spot checks 10 percent of the fleet once a year, and then checks them all every year, usually when school’s out.

The center boasts other improvements over the old site. Instead of one drive-through area with two lifts, there are now 11 lifts. Instead of fueling two vehicles at once, it can now put gas in 12 at a time. Instead of having to park all 100 buses on half an acre, there’s now room for even 30 more. Instead of bus drivers having to park on the street, there’s now an area for them. There also are lockers for drivers, a lunch room, computers for drivers to use, a lounge area for them, a dispatch center, and even showers.

Even an oil change is high-technology, as the old oil is vacuumed out with a hose. The huge garage is for maintenance and repairs of all district vehicles.

“It’s larger than what we need right now,” Baker said. “With this space, we have built it for 30 years into the future.”

An open house is planned for the facility at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 4.



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