Santa Monica, Calif.'s Big Blue Bus service has received the 2010 Project of the Year award from the Southern California chapter of the Kansas City, Mo.-based American Public Works Association (APWA). The award recognizes the transit agency's 66,000-square-foot maintenance facility expansion project, which was completed in fall 2009.

The new facility can service up to 20 vehicles a day, including electric/gasoline hybrid, compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas buses. It also includes other eco-friendly and energy-efficient features, such as 600 roof-mounted photovoltaic panels, minimum energy water heaters and an urban runoff system to filter stormwater. “Each year, the APWA recognizes public agencies for their outstanding achievements and also for the wealth of good ideas they share with others,” said George Alvarez, president of the Southern California chapter of the APWA. “The Big Blue Bus facility expansion project has earned this recognition for its demonstrated awareness of the need to protect and enhance the environment, while also contributing positively to the community it serves.”

The expansion project included the construction of 21 high-tech service bays and the demolition of the previous 40-year-old maintenance building. Two of the new bays are dedicated for Santa Monica Fire Department vehicles, while three others are extra long to service new 60-foot articulated buses on order.

The $60 million project, which was financed entirely by public transit funds, can service every type of alternative fueled vehicle in the transit agency's fleet. Along with the eco-friendly features mentioned above, recycled content was used extensively in construction materials used to build the facility, including concrete, structural steel, carpeting, gypsum board, finishes and insulation.

A distinctive feature of the facility is the 200-foot-long programmable glass art wall situated along the perimeter, which contains translucent panels that change colors and patterns to simulate movement. The wall helps provide privacy for the expanded bus yard and incorporates a bus stop at one end.

The project was a collaborative effort between the Big Blue Bus and the city's Department of Public Works. “The city's architectural and construction management on this project was outstanding, and we owe a lot to them for having this project turn out so exceptionally,” said Stephanie Negriff, director of transit services for the Big Blue Bus. “This award is a great honor for the city, and also for the Big Blue Bus employees who provided valuable input towards the final design of the project.”

For more information about the Big Blue Bus, visit www.bigbluebus.com. For information about the American Public Works Association, visit www.apwa.net.