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Wednesday, November 7, 1990 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Corrected version

Metro's Bus Barn Not Yet Impressing The Neighbors

SHORELINE - Metro's north operating base won't be finished until 1991, but it is already a landmark for commuters - but not in the way that Metro has in mind.

Traffic reports use the 2-acre bus barn at 175th Street Northwest as a marker in describing just how far north traffic is backed up on Interstate 5 in the morning.

Commuters waiting to creep forward have had a front-row seat as the $32 million project unfolded from the excavation of 120,000 tons of garbage from the former landfill site to the installation of massive concrete slabs to form Metro's first enclosed bus base.

Drivers also have been watching Metro's newly planted trees wither and die. The trees were planted to form a natural barrier to absorb noise from the highway and from the 225 buses that will eventually operate from the base.

Landscaping - including a 2-acre park atop the bus base - will be vital to neighborhood acceptance of the bus base. David Tyner, president of the Shoreline Neighborhood Association, said Metro is off to a bad start.

``They did a sloppy job with those trees. They let weeds grow up and choke the trees. They didn't water them until we started calling them,'' Tyner said.

Frank Whitman, senior bus base project manager, said the trees were hard to maintain in the hot, dry summer months. He said landscaping is generally the last phase of a construction project.

The concrete roof of the bus garage is already being transformed into a park.

Lakeside Landscaping of Mukilteo, which also landscaped the top of the Two Union Square parking lot in downtown Seattle, has started building up a 5-inch deep layer of drainage and irrigation pipes, sand and filter fabric.

The sand and gravel will then be covered with 6 inches of sandy soil and seeded to form a broad, green playing field. The rooftop park will not support trees but they will be grown in planter boxes edging the park perimeter.

``I've never seen anything like this before,'' said Paul Coen, an irrigation specialist with Lakeside Landscaping.

The park, part of the mediation worked out between Metro and residents who opposed the project, will have a small picnic area and sandbox in the southwest corner.

But in addition to aesthetics, neighboring residents are still concerned about noise pollution, Tyner said. The Shoreline Neighborhood Association, local state legislators and King County Council members are lobbying the state Department of Transportation to build additional acoustical walls to limit the noise coming from the freeway and eventually from the bus garage.

Tyner said the group is meeting again next month to discuss cost sharing between Metro and DOT.

The bus base already was built below surface to meet neighborhood environmental concerns; Whitman compared the bus garage with a daylight basement. One side is ground level and three sides are recessed underground.

When the bus base is operating next summer, buses will enter the base through a tunnel under I-5. Metro expects to increase operating efficiency and save money. Right now Metro runs buses from the Eastside to serve North End bus routes.

Published Correction Date: 11/14/90 - The Address Of Metro's North Operating Base Was Listed Incorrectly In This Article. The Base Under Construction Is Near North 165Th Street And Interstate 5.

Copyright (c) 1990 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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