No fed cash for bus barn
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
August 2, 2012
The START bus system has lost out on two multimillion-dollar grants for its proposed bus headquarters, agency director Michael Wackerly said.
Some fed cash was OK’d, though, for bike and pedestrian pathway work.
The Southern Teton Area Rapid Transit system asked the federal Department of Transportation for $24.4 million from two grant programs. Though START didn’t expect to win the whole amount, getting nothing was a disappointment, Wackerly said Friday.
“Our expectations really were not anywhere close to the totals,” Wackerly said. “A more reasonable expectation would have been in the range of five to 10 million for the START facilities project, but we didn’t get either.”
START board members will talk at a meeting today about cheaper plans for the headquarters and other ways to finance the project. They will present the options for the project’s future to town and county officials at a joint meeting Monday. The START board will not make a recommendation to officials.
“We want to make sure we pre-sent all the information,” Wackerly said. Officials at the town-county meeting are “going to need to decide” what comes next.
START could look for money from special purpose excise tax revenue or apply for more federal grants, Wackerly said.
START has already secured $7 million for the START headquarters project, which has an estimated cost of $30 million.
The master plan for the project includes a bus barn, a maintenance building, a fueling station, administration offices, employee housing and a natural gas fueling station.
Town and county officials have reserved 4 acres for the proposed headquarters off of Snow King Avenue between Karns Meadow and the Virginian Lodge and RV Park.
In the past, the board has talked about reducing the cost of the project by eliminating an expensive underground employee parking lot from the plan.
While START did not receive any funding, federal officials did award $1.5 million from one of the grant programs to the Jackson Hole Community Pathways project that will build a bike and pedestrian path between the Stilson Ranch parking lot and Jackson. The first phase of the project is estimated to cost $9.2 million.
“The pathways portion was the smallest piece that you could shave off in a distinct package,” Pathways Coordinator Brian Shilling said.
Shilling said it is common for federal officials to only fund a portion of a project proposed in a grant.
The START board meeting will take place today at 11:30 a.m. in the Jackson Town Council chambers.