Construction of the Berkeley Unified School District’s $10 million transportation facility at Sixth Street is scheduled to begin Monday, according to district officials.
The project, which was unanimously approved by the Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board in November 2006, will bring together functions now housed at three different sites in the city and host an office and classroom building, a mechanical shop and a washing station along with 32 slots for bus parking and 37 car spaces.
The new facility will save the district approximately $450,000 annually, said Berkeley Unified Facilities Director Lew Jones.
“We are in three locations, all of which are close by,” Jones said. “We are renting a bus yard and a mechanical shop which costs the district between $400,000 to $450,000 every year.”
Funds for the construction of the new bus depot will come from the facilities bond, said Jones, and it will be ready for use by October 2009.
Jones told the Planet the classrooms would be used to train bus drivers.
Some area residents were concerned about increased pollution, noise and traffic, and also the construction of a bus depot on a street Mayor Tom Bates has proposed for increased commercial use.
District officials said although they had explored alternative sites for the project, the Sixth and Gilman Street site—which the district purchased from a private entity in 2000—was the most suitable.
Jones said a group of neighbors had expressed concern about the increase in traffic at the ZAB meeting.
“We are right at the same location now, just across the street,” he said. “There will be very little change, and it will not increase the number of trips. We will notify folks if we have more traffic.”