81° F Saturday, June 24, 2017

topstory transportation center2The wheels are going ‘round and ‘round on Lake Travis ISD’s new Transportation and Distribution Center.

The center on Texas 71 just west of Hamilton Pool Road in Bee Cave will shoulder the busloads as the district continues to grow from 6,545 students last school year to a projected 11,931 students in 2020, according to a 2009 district demographics study.

It is on schedule for substantial completion in November.

As officials begin to speak more and more about opening a second high school — a few years off at 2019-2021 — and third middle school, the need intensifies for a transportation center that can handle such growth.

“Both of these are sorely needed by the district,” said Jim Ratcliff, LTISD senior director for facilities, construction and support services.

Sixty-two buses carried about 2,500 students on 82 routes on a daily basis last school year.

The $7.22 million, 34-acre site can contain up to 175 buses as well as its transportation fleet and will be the location of its first distribution center.

Ratcliff said the Transportation and Distribution Center would serve the district’s needs through its expected build out.

“The transportation center that we are building is more than double the size of our current building,” Ratcliff said, adding that the district will renovate its existing transportation center behind Lake Travis High School into a maintenance center.

It couldn’t have come sooner.

“We’ve got all of those buses crammed in about half the space they ought to have, and they’ve got to go through the high school campus, which is a safety issue,” he said.

The new 16,035-square-foot center will feature four service bays, larger bus wash facility and fuel tanks, storage areas for fuel and lubricants, offices and training areas.

The district will separate and recycle 100 percent of water that comes off the buses as they are washed. The facility also will collect and incinerate soap and solution from the wash.

It also will use rainwater collected in detention ponds to irrigate the center’s grass and trees.

“We’re not dumping any water anywhere,” Ratcliff vowed.

The district planned to split construction of the sizeable parking area that will hold up to 200 buses into phases that would take more time but save money. However, it seized upon favorable market conditions to get it at $2.81 million now.

“The current bidding climate is so good right now — the contractors are looking for work. We got a serious bargain on that, so we included it in the project,” Ratcliff said, adding that the site’s paving will fall within City of Bee Cave’s impervious cover requirements.

“We should be at or below 45 percent impervious cover,” he said.

The other half of the project – a $2.2 million distribution center building — will be LTISD’s first warehouse facility.

The 15,991-square-foot center will serve as a clearinghouse that enables LTISD to purchase some of its supplies in bulk orders, thereby negotiating better prices in some cases.

The district has been storing items in portable classrooms and where it could find spare space.

“It allows us to stock up when the prices are good. Right now, [those supplies have] to be drop-shipped to each campus because we have no place to take care of them,” Ratcliff said.

The building also will have dock-height delivery bays and space for the district to store surplus items, such as furniture.

The district has planned both buildings for expansion some time between 2015-2020 should growth warrant it, Ratcliff said.

The district can expand the transportation facility by two more sections of service bays and the distribution to add another warehouse section.

The Transportation and Distribution Center is the last construction project on the district’s 2006 bond program.

“In 2006 and 2007 there was significant inflation in the cost of construction. That came out of the blue,” he said.

LTISD trustees wanted to ensure the district had sufficient funds to complete educational facilities in the bond package and then build the Transportation and Distribution Center.

“So that’s why this is on the tail end,” Ratcliff said. “That was a good decision.”

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