Governor Martin O'Malley praised the announcement by U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, that Maryland will receive $40 million in federal funding to replace the aging Kirk Avenue bus maintenance facility in East Baltimore. Operated by the Maryland Transit Administration, the busy Kirk facility sits amidst a residential neighborhood creating noise and air quality issues. Construction of a new maintenance facility will support nearly 700 jobs and is part of a two-phased project designed to upgrade facilities, internalize operations within those facilities and improve the surrounding environment.
"Secretary LaHood's announcement is good news for transit, good news for the surrounding communities and good news because of the nearly 700 construction jobs this project will support," said Governor O'Malley. "For decades MTA's bus operation and its neighbors have coexisted but it is clear that we must improve the Kirk facility and do more to address the noise and air quality issues that impact our neighbors. With this grant, MTA can begin to move forward and address these concerns while improving transit in Baltimore. I thank President Obama, Secretary LaHood, Senator Cardin and Congressman Cummings for their commitment to the people of Baltimore."
Phase I of the project involves the construction of a $53 million, state-of-the-art, sustainable design, energy efficient/green technology building that will house maintenance operations for the Kirk Bus Division. In addition to the $40 million in federal assistance, the State will contribute $13 million toward the cost of construction. The new 100,000 square foot maintenance facility will be completely enclosed and located on property directly across from the existing Kirk Division. It will allow all maintenance work to be performed in an enclosed environment thereby enabling MTA to better control noise, exhaust fumes, and visibility of the buses to the surrounding community.
"Funding to replace the Kirk Bus facility has been one of my top priorities for many years," said U.S. Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. "This $40 million Department of Transportation grant is an investment in Baltimore's bus system and will ensure more reliable bus service for Baltimoreans while creating approximately 700 good-paying jobs. This project is a winner for our entire community and for the safe, efficient operation of our bus system."
"The Maryland Transit Administration's (MTA) bus service is a key part of the fabric that binds our city together," said 7th District Congressman Elijah Cummings. "This grant recognizes the critical role that public transportation plays in Maryland and underscores the Administration's commitment to ensuring the safety of its riders and the efficiency of its providers. I thank the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Maryland Department of Transportation for making the Kirk Bus Facility renovation possible, and I look forward to the opening of the first phase of the project in 2014."
The Kirk facility is 65 years old and has not been fully renovated since it was built in 1947. Approximately 175 buses are stored, operated, and maintained at the site. The Kirk Division supports 16 bus routes, primarily in the Northeast Baltimore Metropolitan area. Operations at Kirk include preventive maintenance, vehicle inspections, heavy repairs, fueling, washing, radio dispatching, administrative offices and operator support facilities. MTA employs 351 operators and staff at the Kirk Division.