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With new facility, promises of cleaner, newer Metrobuses

A rendering of the new bus facility in Lorton, Va. (Courtesy of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority)

LORTON, Va. – Relief is on the way for a residential neighborhood long plagued by bus noise and pollution.

In less than two years, Metro’s 70-year-old bus garage and maintenance facility on Royal Street in Alexandria, Va., will be gone and replaced by a larger, more efficient one in a Lorton industrial park on Cinder Bed Road.

Metro General Manager Richard Sarles was among those attending a groundbreaking for the $89 million facility at the new site Monday. He says the facility will be able to house new buses that could not fit in the Royal Street garage.

“The ones you will see coming out of here are diesel-hybrid-electrics, so that results in less emissions,” Sarles said. “It results in brand new buses that are more comfortable than the old buses.”

Two-thirds of the money to build the facility – $69 million – will be federal funding. Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff says the facility will help ease congestion in the entire region.

“Maintenance facilities are absolutely essential in handling the growth in the bus fleet,” Rogoff said.

The new bus facility can handle 160 buses, more than double what the existing garage can accommodate. It’s expected to be completed by the middle of 2015, which means the Royal Street garage can be torn down.

Alexandria plans to redevelop that site, which is in a residential area where people long have complained about pollution and noise.

The new building will be LEED-certified, meaning it will be energy-efficient. It is expected to produce 300 construction jobs.

The new site is near two other facilities for Fairfax Connector buses and Fairfax County school buses. Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff McKay, who chairs the Board of Supervisors’ Transportation Committee and represents the area, says the facility is a perfect fit for what is now an industrial zone.

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