Four options for expanding Isle of Wight bus garage

Published 3:14 pm Thursday, September 14, 2023

Isle of Wight County Schools is proposing four options — ranging in cost from $2 million to over $10 million — for expanding its bus garage.

The School Board voted in February to approve a capital improvements plan listing the renovation or replacement of the school division’s circa-1955 bus garage as its No. 3 priority, behind school security upgrades and replacing Westside Elementary.

County supervisors in May adopted a 10-year plan that allocates $2 million for the bus garage in fiscal year 2028-29. That dollar amount “may be a little low,” IWCS Fleet Supervisor Andrew Sullivan told the supervisors at a Sept. 7 joint meeting of the two boards.

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Only one of the five work bays in the current building is large enough to fit Isle of Wight’s newest 77-passenger buses, necessitating that some of the division’s mechanics work outside in the elements when that bay is full. The $2 million-plus project slated for funding would entail adding an additional bay to the current 8,400-square-foot building.

A more involved and costly plan, Sullivan said, would be to build a new eight-bay garage nearly twice as large as the current one for $7.5 million.

A third option, he said, is to build a 16,500-square-foot garage with 10 bays for $10.5 million, which would be large enough to potentially also service the county’s non-school vehicles.

The fourth option, which carries the highest upfront cost, is to “fully integrate” the $10.5 million building with Isle of Wight County, meaning the county would essentially become a customer of its school system for maintenance and repairs to its non-school vehicles. This would entail the added cost of hiring additional mechanics to service county vehicles, Sullivan said, but the facility would eventually become “completely financially self-sufficient” from the revenue from the county.

The county, he said, would save money by using Isle of Wight County Schools’ in-house mechanics rather than outsourcing repairs to a for-profit business.

For example, the school division’s mechanics can do light-duty service on an M2 freight liner truck for about $480.

“If you took it to a large truck company in Chesapeake, they’re going to charge you about $1,300 so that’s a pretty significant cost savings,” Sullivan said.