After nine years of planning, and nearly three years of design and construction, Santa Monica’s Big Blue Bus will dedicate its new 66,000 square-foot maintenance facility Wednesday, September 23rd.

The $60-million project came in under budget and on time, and features the latest in sustainable transit maintenance technologies, Big Blue Bus officials said.

A dedication ceremony and public open house will be held from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the maintenance facility, 1620 Seventh St., Santa Monica. The event will feature a ribbon cutting by city officials, self-guided tours of the facility, a large display of vintage photographs covering the past 80 years of the Big Blue Bus, a 3-D video presentation showcasing how the project was designed and a variety of equipment demonstrations.

“This project has exceeded our expectations, both in its environmental and functional design and in its overall execution,” Santa Monica City Manager P. Lamont Ewell said. “This new facility and its increased capacity yard will allow the Big Blue Bus to smoothly transition into the future so we can better serve the community for many years to come.”

The new facility, which was financed entirely by public transit funds, is part of an expansion project that will include the demolition of the existing 40-year-old maintenance facility and a reorganized, more efficient bus yard, agency officials said. The project was extensively planned and multi-phased so that daily bus operations could be maintained while the project was under construction.

“While the old facility has served us well for over 40 years, we live in a different world now and need a facility that can maintain our larger and more technologically diverse fleet, which includes many different types and sizes of cleaner burning alternative fueled vehicles,” said Stephanie Negriff, director of transit services for the Big Blue Bus.

Negriff noted that the project also provides for needed additional space for bus parking and longer bays to service the larger articulated buses expected in 2011. The articulated buses will be used on the Rapid 3 and 7 lines, which are currently the agency’s busiest and most popular routes.

The new facility includes 21 service bays, which can handle the maintenance and repair of up to 20 buses a day, and has three extended bays to service the new 60-foot articulated buses, as well as two bays dedicated to maintaining Santa Monica Fire Department vehicles. The facility will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Agency officials explain that the building has many eco-friendly and energy efficient features, such as:

n 600 80-kilowatt photovoltaic panels on the roof to help reduce energy costs by up to 15 percent a year;

n Highly reflective concrete paving in the bus yard to keep the facility’s microclimate cooler;

n An urban runoff system to filter storm water;

n Reclaimed water for landscape irrigation;

n Recycled content in major constructions materials, including concrete, structural steel, carpeting, gypsum board, finishes and insulation; and

n Electric vehicle charging stations.

The facility also incorporates a 200-foot-long art wall utilizing special glass panels that can change from transparent to semi-transparent shades of blue.

The Los Angeles office of HOK, an internationally recognized leader in sustainable design, served as the facility’s architect. The project was built by Morley Construction Company.

Information about the Big Blue Bus,, or (310) 451-5444.