Metro proposes temporary solution to crumbling DC bus garage

Metro facilities on Calvert Street, Colorado Avenue and Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase will be getting new doors, windows and restrooms.. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — A Metrobus garage has areas that are in danger of collapse, which drove Metro to spend $150,000 a month to park 20 buses on the street each morning and at other garages overnight, taking limited street parking away from neighbors in Northwest D.C.

On Thursday, the Metro board is set to approve a new temporary home for those 20 long, accordion-like articulated buses through the lease of an empty parking lot at the old Walter Reed site on Georgia Avenue N.W.

The new site is about two miles from the over 110-year-old Northern Bus Division garage near Petworth.

“[C]onditions at the Northern bus facility (located on 14th and Decatur Streets N.W.) are such that the buses are not safe to stay inside that facility overnight,” a board memo said. The concerns are structural.

The new lease is for $30,000 a month from October through at least the end of June, and it would end Metro’s current practice of driving the 20 buses back and forth each day to other garages. The buses are brought back to the Northern garage each morning, where Metro is paying the District to use street parking spaces.

“The total cost to Metro for transport from the remote bus facilities and for street parking is more than $150,000 per month,” the board memo said. “Moreover, the time required to transport the buses reduces the window for daily maintenance activities. Finally, the local community and area businesses object to Metro utilizing scarce on-street parking for temporary bus parking.”

As long as the buses do not damage the Walter Reed site, the switch to the parking lot is projected to save about $1 million through June, compared to Metro’s current temporary solution. It will also free up parking spaces for people who live near the garage.

Eventually, Metro hopes to completely rebuild the Northern garage, which would also allow for more room for longer buses to serve the heavily-used bus corridors in the heart of the city. That work is years away.

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