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RVTD gets $12.5 million grant for new bus facility

Andy Atkinson / Mail TribuneRVTD busses parked in the back lot of the Crater Lake Ave location. RVTD was awarded a $12.5 million federal grant to help build a new bus facility.
RVTD will use the $12.5 million federal grant to replace an aging single-story Transportation and Operations Building with a new two-story 8,678 square foot building on a lot adjacent to the main campus. The new facility is part of a planned expansion of RVTD’s Medford campus designed to accommodate the service’s next two decades of growth. Pivot Architecture rendering, via RVTD.

The Rogue Valley Transportation District was awarded its largest-ever federal grant Monday, clearing the way for a new bus operations building in Medford.

The Federal Transit Administration awarded RVTD $12,552,523 Monday, which will cover more than 80% of a planned $15.5 million expansion of RVTD’s campus at 3200 Crater Lake Ave., according to Paige West, RVTD planning and strategic programs manager.

The planned two-story, 8,678-square-foot Transportation and Operations building will replace a single-story 1,200-square-foot building that’s unable to fully accommodate RVTD’s more than five dozen drivers when they’re not behind the wheel.

“We are bursting at the seams trying to be able to accommodate our drivers,” West said.

Expansion of the current facility isn’t an option because an audit of RVTD facilities placed the structure at the lowest ranking.

“We really shouldn’t invest in the facility because it’s beyond its useful life,” West said.

The new facility will include amenities such as an area where drivers can wait on campus between shifts and significantly expanded locker space — not only for the current 63 drivers, five support staff and a manager at the location now, but space for an extra 30% more staff expected to work at the facility some two decades from now.

Another key need that the new facility will meet is training space. RVTD drivers must undergo training when they start, along with annual trainings in compliance with Federal Transit Administration guidelines.

“It’s been difficult to find spaces for more than three or four drivers at a time,” West said.

Staff and bus parking are commingled at the current campus, and limits the facility to 45 buses — a capacity RVTD has reached. The new project will add separate staff parking and electric vehicle charging for passenger cars.

“This will open up space for us to add buses to our fleet,” West said.

RVTD contracted with Pivot Architecture of Eugene to determine a “rough order of magnitude” that outlined about $15.5 million for the project’s construction, landscaping and paving costs.

The federal grant requires a local match, so RVTD will use roughly $3 million in special transportation improvement funds to help pay for the construction project.

Despite securing the bulk of the funding, West anticipates construction is about a year away.

“We have to go through the engineering process,” West said, adding that they expect to start putting out requests for public bids on the project in late winter, and completion of the building and facility improvements by the end of 2023.

West said RVTD has used the federal grants before for things such as new buses, but this is the first time the transportation district has received an FTA grant for a construction project.

The grant is one of 70 transportation projects worth $409.3 million that the federal agency awarded in 39 states Monday, according to press releases from the U.S. Department of Transportation and Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. Out of those 70 grants awarded by the FTA, RVTD’s was the fifth largest in the country.

The Southern Oregon grant makes up the majority of the three projects in the state worth $17.6 million. Other federal transit grants in Oregon are $4.8 million to Lane Transit District to buy zero-emission electric buses and charging equipment, and $244,800 to the city of Cottage Grove to replace older buses.

West said Merkley was “very instrumental” in moving the grant request forward with the Federal Transit Administration.

“He helped to make sure we were strongly considered,” West said. “Certainly having our state delegation pulling through highlighting these projects ... does help with the overall selection process.”

In Merkley’s press release, RVTD General Manager Julie Brown called the grant award a “transformative investment” that “will enhance operations throughout our agency for years to come.”

"With expanded, state-of-the art facilities for our transportation personnel, we will be able to meet service demands in the Rogue Valley through 2040, all while reducing our carbon footprint and increasing opportunities for our workforce,“ Brown stated.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.