For the past 30 years, the city of Spokane has wanted to build new facilities to house its large-vehicle fleet operations in one location.
On Monday, Dec. 23, the City Council approved a $14.2 million contract to design and build it.
A team comprised of Garco Construction and Bernardo Wills Architects of Spokane won the competition for the contract for the Nelson Service Center at the site of a former lumber mill.
The project will consolidate solid waste, fleet services and street maintenance, including large-vehicle maintenance.
Utilities Director Rick Romero told the council the new facility will offer enough savings in operating efficiency and fuel use that it will almost pay for itself in eight years.
Estimated savings are $12.5 million over the eight years.
Garbage trucks will no longer have to spend 25 minutes per shift driving from the current facility on East Marietta Avenue to the city's fueling facility adjacent to the planned Nelson Service Center, Romero said.
Saving that time will increase operating efficiency and offer a chance to undertake an analysis of garbage routes to find even more efficiencies, he said.
On top of that, the facility will be capable of deploying new garbage trucks powered by compressed natural gas. Natural gas is quieter, less polluting and currently about half the cost of diesel, Romero said.
Financing is coming from a reserve in the solid waste fund, which will be refunded in coming years. The use of the cash eliminates borrowing costs, Romero said.
The planned facility at 909 N. Nelson St. in the Garry Park Neighborhood is being placed behind a neighborhood trail and landscaping to provide a buffer to nearby residences.
This is the first time the city has undertaken a design-build approach to construction.
Unlike traditional bidding, the city set a maximum price and issued specifications and asked teams of designers and builders to compete by doing the first 30 percent of the design.
From that, the city chose the winner. Baker Construction and Wolfe Architectural Group, the second-place team, earned an honorarium payment for their effort. A third team bowed out of the competition.
The design-build system allows the city to negotiate for the final elements of the project.
The new facility will be adjacent to existing facilities for fueling, vehicle washing, streets and park maintenance.
It replaces outdated facilities, including the fleet services department on North Normandie Street.
Council members said vacating older facilities will open those sites for future private redevelopment.
The fleet consists of 35 liquefied natural gas and 215 compressed natural gas tractors, currently running in 32 customer operations in California, Arizona and Michigan.