As Susan Weidenbach walked one recent afternoon around a new 120,000-square-foot maintenance facility for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) in Hyattsville, workers stayed busy putting the finishing touches on the building.
Electricians checked power switches. Others on the scene completed the ventilation for a new air compressor. Still others worked on the HVAC system and cleaned floors.
Construction of the facility, located in a former pharmaceutical warehouse on Polk Street, is nearly finished, said Weidenbach, project manager for Rockville-based Forrester Construction.
The project is the result of a years-long partnership between the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and MNCPPC. That partnership soon will result in new, state-of-the-art facilities for both agencies.
“This agreement is a prime example of the power of partnerships and collaboration,” said MDOT Secretary Greg Slater. “We’re using outside-the-box thinking and creative solutions to fill the needs of the state and the hard-working employees of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. It’s great to see these projects coming to fruition.”
As part of the agreement, MDOT assumed control of MNCPPC’s former maintenance facility in Glenridge. There, the state is building a new Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA)’s new, 16.2-mile Purple Line light rail system.
While MNCPPC’s maintenance department has been working out of a temporary location in College Park, Forrester Construction built the agency its new maintenance facility on Polk Street in Hyattsville. The Polk Street facility and the OMF in Glenridge are set to open in the coming months.
“We look at it as a win-win,” said the Purple Line’s program director Jim Mitchell with Maryland Transit Partners, the Program Management Consultant, who is overseeing construction of the Glenridge facility and the Purple Line on behalf of MTA. “The project got critical land in the right location. In return, the parks receive a new maintenance and office facility. I think it’s a great testament to state and local jurisdictions working together for the good of a project that’s very important not only for the state, but for Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.”
The original Glenridge facility, which MDOT assumed control of in 2016, was torn down to make way for the 170,000-square-feet OMF building. Construction of the facility is nearly complete, though the “yard” where rail cars will sit during off hours is still being built.
The OMF will support regular maintenance of rail cars, including vehicle washing and repair, along with the re-fabrication of running gear and electronic train control systems. The facility also will house the Purple Line’s Operations Control Center, which will feature sophisticated train control and monitoring systems. The facility will house more than 200 workers.
“It’s basically the hub of where all activities generate from,” Mitchell said.
When complete, the Purple Line will feature 21 stops in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. The Purple Line will connect passengers with transit networks including the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, MDOT MTA MARC, Amtrak and local bus services like Ride On in Montgomery County, The Bus in Prince George’s County and the University of Maryland shuttle system.
Purple Line Executive Director Matt Pollack, a Montgomery County native who now lives in Prince George’s County, said it was imperative that work continued on the Glenridge facility as the state took over construction of the project in recent months. Purple Line vehicles are being built in New York and delivery to Maryland could take place as early as this summer, Pollack said. Testing of the vehicles will take place at the Glenridge facility.
“Completing Glenridge during this period is critical to the overall project construction,” Pollack said.
MNCPPC’s new maintenance facility on Polk Street also is much needed, said Roger Richardson, a longtime employee who now serves as acting park maintenance superintendent for MNCPPC. MNCPPC owns and operates 505 parks on 27,000 acres across Prince George’s County, plus another 424 parks across 37,000 acres in Montgomery County.
Maintenance crews in Prince George’s County have been working out of a much smaller, leased space in College Park since late 2015, Richardson said.
“It benefits us because we’ll have more space to spread out (and) we’ll have more space to grow, because we’re growing in the county,” he said.
The facility will house MNCPPC’s fleet maintenance garage, indoor parking for all maintenance vehicles and equipment, and trade shops for welding, carpentry and painting. It also will be used to store recreational equipment, house managerial and administrative staff, and employees like the grounds crew and trash and recycling crew, among others, Richardson said. About 135 people will work out of the new location.
Among its features, the new facility will have more secure parking, larger locker rooms and restrooms, a computer lab and fitness room. One of the greatest benefits, however, is its central location, Richardson said. The new site is about a block from Route 50 and not far from I-95/I-495, which will allow employees to travel easily to parks across Prince George’s County.
MNCPPC worked closely with the state, especially early in the planning process, to discuss what the agency wanted in a new facility.
“We got a lot of the things we asked for,” Richardson said.
Secretary Slater is grateful to see the OMF and Polk Street projects nearing completion.
“Despite the unprecedented challenges of working during a global pandemic, crews at both sites took the proper precautions and got the job done,” Secretary Slater said. “I couldn’t be prouder that both sides of this unique agreement were able to come together to successfully deliver this tremendous improvement for the community.”