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Island Transit plans ribbon cutting

Island Transit is opening its new headquarters on Central Whidbey this weekend.

The grand opening event will start at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 17, at the facility on Highway 20 about one mile south of Coupeville.

This new main base is the result of Island Transit receiving a State of Good Repair grant, which “is dedicated to repairing and upgrading the nation’s rail transit systems along with high-intensity motor bus systems that use high-occupancy vehicle lanes, including bus rapid transit,” according to the Federal Transit Administration’s website.

Island Transit was created in December 1987, in a 6,000-square-foot building, according to Executive Director Martha Rose.

“It was just really horrendous conditions we had been working in,” Rose said, “but we kept a smile on our faces because we’re a great group.”

Island Transit started requesting grants in 1996 after the transit system had grown so much in size that employees were practically on top of each other, Rose said. They received word that they were successful with the State of Good Repairs grant in the fall of 2011. They broke ground April 10, 2012.

The new base is located on 13.84 acres, more than seven of which are in Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve.

“We built the design and everything about our project based on the prairie,” Rose said.

The building is larger than Island Transit currently needs, which means there is a lot of empty space inside, and plenty of room to grow, she added.

“One of the requirements when you receive … federal funds is that you have to build the facility as if you are twenty years out,” said Rose. “This building will last forty to fifty years. When you’re using tax dollars, you want to build something that lasts.”

The grand opening event will include light refreshments, speeches from U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, U.S. Rep. Rick Larson, Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson and more. There will also be tours of the new facility to showcase the green aspects of the new building, the state-of-the-art technology and all the historical elements that were included, according to Rose.

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