The city’s transit garage, estimated to cost as much as $23 million, will be a state-of-the-art facility that will both house most of the city’s vehicles and centralize maintenance and repair operations.
Tony Cecutti, the city’s general manager of infrastructure, told members of the operations committee this week the garage is being carefully planned through a process known as value engineering. Basically that involves getting the maximum functionality out of the building for the lowest cost.
Working with engineers and architects, Cecutti said they have come up with a detailed plan that achieves that goal.
For example, adding energy-efficient lighting is adding to the cost of building the garage, but it will save more than in $86,000 in energy costs each year, and will more than pay for itself in the long run.
“We’re recommending this as an opportunity and as a significant investment for the city,” Cecutti said. “We’ve completed the design drawings, and this project is ready to go to the next stage.”
He said the current garage at the city’s Frobisher depot badly needs to be replaced.
“It was originally constructed as a temporary building, but it has lasted some 40 years now,” he said. “It has reached the end of its useful design life … It’s at a stage where it’s really not practical to keep spending money on it. We should be considering alternatives.”
The city bought the former National Grocer’s building on Lorne Street in 2010 for $4.9 million with an eye on centralizing storage and maintenance work there, bringing together work being done at six sites into a single location.
Estimates to replace existing garages were about $40 million, but officials said they could do it for half that amount by putting everything into the Lorne Street facility, which measures about 145,000 square feet.
They assembled a team to put together a detailed plan on integrating the fleet and to determine what changes to the building would be required.
“The detailed evaluation showed that this structure is in excellent condition,” Cecutti said. “For example, the columns and the roof are in excellent shape and the floor is in excellent shape as well.
“It presented opportunities for us as a design team. For example, we can look at taking columns out to create more open space, because the building is in such good shape.”
The upgrades have pushed up construction costs, but Cecutti said they will result in long-term efficiencies and savings. For example, taking out some columns will give them room to store 10 more buses.
The facility will also recycle 85 per cent of the water it uses, will recover heat from the vehicles and use it to help keep the building warm, and the building will get extra insulation to maximize energy efficiency, as well as rooftop solar panels.
“Heating and ventilation are obviously very important,” he said. “We want to be able to close the doors and not lose heat. So ventilation is obviously critical to a safe environment.”
While no one is happy costs have increased, committee chair Jacques Barbeau said it’s key to think long-term and to ensure they get the most for the money they spend.
“We need to ensure this project is done properly,” Barbeau said.
The next step is to bring the revised proposal to council on Jan. 29. If it’s approved, they would tender the construction contract, with an eye on completing the garage in 2014.