GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) — We’re learning more about the planned new Greenlink Operations and Maintenance facility.
The goal is to move Greenlink’s maintenance facility on Augusta Street to the site of the old Washington High on Arcadia Drive.
“The building that we’ve got right now, we’re at capacity. I don’t have any more room for buses. I don’t have any more room for employee parking. And even if I had those two things, my bays are at capacity to do maintenance,” said James Keel, Public Transit Director & Executive Director for Greenville Transit Authority.
While some residents have complained to 7NEWS about the need for more buses to run more often, Keel said this new facility will help.
Keel said this will help build towards their transit development plan which would need 15 new routes over the next decade and and ultimate goal of a 30-minute frequency for buses.
“And really, the king pin to making all that happening is a new operations and maintenance facility,” Keel said.
“Greenville is growing. Everybody knows that Greenville is growing. If you look at kind of the long-range predictions, on population growth, we’ve got 200,000 people that are going to be moving in here in the next, you know, 20 years,” Keel said.
Now, the new operations and maintenance facility will be the solution.
“That being said, the project property, it’s a cool property. I mean, it is what we would call a green project. So, if you look at the history of the site, Washington High was actually there at one point, and it was a segregated school in Greenville County. It was torn down many years ago. And it’s kind of been sitting vacant,” Keel said.
Not all of the land will be developed.
“The results from an initial study indicate that Greenlink will not need to utilize the entire 26.5 acre site. The remaining acreage could serve as the buffer and greenspace between the facility and the adjacent neighborhood,” the city’s website said.
There are plans for a playground, sidewalks, a trail system and open space.
“It’s going to bring it alive. All the kids that are going around here, they’re just going to get happy because they’ll have a place to play around,” said Fernando Dominguez, a nearby resident. “Overall, I really believe it’s going to be good for the community.”
“In addition to that, pretty massive pavilions going to be going here on the property. [Residents] can come take advantage of that that covered picnic area,” said Keel. “And then I think what was one of the cooler things about the project, we’ve worked with the Washington High Alumni, who was still active and engaged. And they’re working to put together an RFP to actually have an artist come in and figure out how to best memorialize that site, and remember the history that’s there.”
The city’s website also said there are plans to include a “Community Room” in the Operations and Maintenance facility.
The community room will serve as the board room for the Greenville Transit Authority Board of Directors meetings and Greenlink staff may be able to use the room for presentations, training, and other events.
The room will also be available for members of the public to reserve, the city said.
Still, some long-time residents aren’t too pleased.
“Well, the health issues are our major concern. The health and of course the depreciation of our property and the factor that it was done behind closed doors without consulting us,” said Charity O Jones, a nearby resident. “I’m sure they’re going to be washing the buses – and noise and lights and traffic – that’s another very important issue.”
Keel said the project is “green.”
“With all of the lighting on the site, it is night sky lighting which means all of the lighting will shine down. It will not pollute the night sky,” Keel said. “At the same time, there’s a really interesting change in terrain here, so while most of the buses will be coming in here and parking at night, there’s this really thick tree buffer in this whole area here that’s going to capture any of that low light from actually going into the neighborhood.”
Keel also they have clean diesel.
Greenlink plans to store fuel in above-ground tanks, which the city said will provide mitigation against possible environmental impacts from any potential fuel leaks.
He also said they conducted a noise and air study based on the project model.
“The bus is not going to be here the majority of the day. 18 hours a day, the bus is not here,” Keel said. “It’s not like we’re going to have an engine that’s going to be here running all day long.”
Keel said it would be no different than a vehicle driving through your neighborhood.
Overall, the city believes the project will help Greenlink to expand its fleet and help the ever-growing county.
“For anybody who is mad about the buses only running once an hour, we can’t increase that frequency until we end up with this facility,” Keel explained. “I mean, it’s going to help people in so many ways. Right now, I don’t even know if we’ve fathomed the positive impact that it’s going to have on Greenville.”
Keel said construction has not started, adding that they are waiting on permitting. He did say it could happen any day now.
Keel said staging for construction has begun. He also told 7NEWS there will likely be two phases.
Phase one will focus on site preparation such as utility work, building storm water ponds, and grading. The actual construction of the facility will be in phase two.
Click here to learn details about the project. The link also has a list of frequently asked questions.