Feature Photo (above): Site of the former Graham Central Station, VIA Metro owns a shopping center that will be converted into a paratransit fleet operations and maintenance facility. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
San Antonio (Bexar County) — The U.S. Department of Transportation gave notice last week of a $6 million grant award to VIA Metropolitan Transit for the design and construction of a new bus maintenance facility.
As reported in VBX in October 2016, VIA Metro was planning to acquire the 11.5-acre shopping center located at the 4900 block of Fredericksburg Road. The property was acquired from a holding of Santikos Entertainment Company in February 2017, according to county land records.
VIA Metro had intended to clear the site to make it available for the new construction of a VIAtrans Operations & Maintenance Facility. But the public transit provider was waiting on federal funding assistance.
On Monday, Senator John Cornyn commented on the grant award.
“Thanks to this grant, the VIA Metropolitan Transit system will be more efficient and ultimately safer for those traveling through San Antonio.”
VIA Metro announced Tuesday that the award will be used to construct an operating and maintenance paratransit facility.
“Currently, VIA’s bus and van operating and maintenance facility is located at one site and is the largest transit agency in the United States to operate both bus and paratransit fleets out of one single yard. The purpose of the new paratransit facility is to provide the space needed at VIA’s bus operating and maintenance facility by consolidating all of VIA’s paratransit van operations and maintenance functions to another site to accommodate their bus and van fleet expansion.
The construction of the facility will include parking for up to 175 vans, a fully functioning maintenance facility, administrative offices, security features, and be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Having paratransit operating and maintenance functions in one location will greatly improve VIA’s operational efficiencies by allowing for expansion of the existing bus yard to accommodate additional fleet as our region experiences approximately 150 people moving in each day, while focusing our paratransit operations and maintenance for those specific vehicles and services on a new location,” VIA Metro said.
A spokesperson for the organization added that VIA Metro staff is at the preliminary stage of its design and programming phase. It is anticipated that a Request For Qualifications solicitation will be issued for design and build teams by the end of the year. The responding teams will be short-listed, and selection of a contractor is expected to occur in the latter part of 2019.
Design and construction would begin immediately following contract award by the Board of Directors.
The project site is best known as the former home of Graham Central Station, a Tejano music dance hall that was a popular entertainment venue for a time. It operated from 2002-2014.
VIA Metro continues to lease space in the shopping center, but most of the available space has been vacant. Image: Google Streets.