While the main stories in the media coming out of today's WMATA board meetings will no doubt be the approval of fare increases
, my focus was on other action items:
* The board also approved
the plan to build a new 114-bus garage at DC Village
to replace the Southeastern Bus Garage
at Half and M, contingent on not only a series of land transfers between the city and WMATA but also on the $69.25 million sale of the current bus garage site to Akridge, since the proceeds from that sale are necessary to both fund the new garage and the interim costs associated with continuing the old garage's functions until the new site is ready. Marion Barry spoke forcefully in support of the move, speaking not only of his constituents' strong support for building a new facility in Ward 8 but also that the current garage is "in the way of progress," situated as it is smack in the middle of the fledgling Ballpark District.
No timeframe for closing the current garage was discussed by the WMATA board, and it was only mentioned in passing that Monument Realty's litigation surrounding the sale of the old garage is still pending. WMATA employees who I've talked to at Half and M in recent days have said they were initially told the garage would be vacated this month, then were told it would be next month, and are now being told that there's no firm date planned.
If indeed WMATA is not planning to close the garage before Opening Day, it will need to come up with plans for moving their buses in and out of that space while dodging tens of thousands of pedestrians, or how they'll shut down the garage during game times. It would also mean that the garage's possible use as a temporary parking facility would be off the boards.