SALINAS VALLEY — Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) recently celebrated the completion of its South County Operations and Maintenance Facility in King City after just over a year of construction.
MST Board of Directors and staff members gathered with community leaders as well as architectural and construction partners Oct. 11 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new 11,000-square-foot facility on San Antonio Drive. The King City location will support existing and future transit needs in the surrounding rural communities, primarily serving transit vehicles to assist residents of South Monterey County.
“It takes a lot to build a facility like this,” said Carl Sedoryk, MST general manager and CEO. “It takes cement, it takes steel, it takes pipe, but it also takes planners, it takes financiers, it takes accountants — so many people were involved in this over the years.”
After 13 months of construction, the $13.5 million project brought an estimated 190 local jobs to the area through direct and indirect activities, providing an economic return of $77.5 million to local communities during the Covid-19 pandemic and related unemployment, according to Sedoryk.
“Where transit goes, community grows — and this investment into King City, which is an investment for South County, will help our communities grow, will help our economies grow, and more importantly, provides an opportunity for our residents to spend much less money on transportation,” King City Mayor Mike LeBarre said.
MST’s newest operations facility will support 35 employees in its maintenance, administrative and bus driver departments, and up to 40 buses will be operated from and maintained at the 5-acre site. By operating from the facility in King City, MST buses will travel less miles, resulting in a 900-ton annual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Service out of the new location is expected to begin in December.
“When MST staff brought this project to our board, it was impossible for us to disagree on how this was going to be a positive impact to our communities,” said Soledad Mayor Anna Velazquez, who also serves as vice-chair of the MST Board of Directors. “It would improve efficiency, improve the environment and help the local economy by increasing access to jobs, education and shopping destinations.”
Most of all, Velazquez added, the new facility increases transit services for South Monterey County residents, including those who need transportation for medical appointments.
“I grew up in Soledad, and many times we hear that resources are scarce down in South County,” she said. “This is a testament that we are working in partnership to make sure that South County is represented and that South County does get its needs met for transportation services. … I just want to say thank you again to the MST staff because, despite being in a global pandemic, they were able to accomplish this in a record-setting time.”
The MST South County Operations and Maintenance Facility is the nation’s first facility completed that utilized the Build America Bureau’s Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Rural Project Initiative loan program. By using TIFIA, MST saved about $5 million in interest payments when compared to traditional private financing sources.
Additional funding was provided by federal funds, State of California SB 1 funds, Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s Measure X funds and local resources.
“This is about a partnership,” said Rep. Jimmy Panetta, who attended last week’s ceremony alongside other officials, including Sen. Anna Caballero and Monterey County Supervisor Chris Lopez. “This is what can happen when we work together at all levels of government — federal, state, county, local — this is the product of that.”