Johnson County’s Secondary Roads and Fleet Management Facility opened its doors Tuesday afternoon to show off the new 39,000-square-foot building.
The facility contains county vehicle space, two repair shops, a road-sign shop, a road-surface-material lab, and a fitness room, said Michael Kennedy, the county construction manager.
After a devastating fire on March 23, 2013, much of the old facility was destroyed as well as seven county vehicles stored in the building.
Construction on the new facility started exactly one year later, March 23, 2014, Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan said.
“The whole project took two years, almost to the day,” he said.
Secondary Roads is responsible for plowing snow, laying gravel, maintaining bridges, and overseeing road maintenance.
The $4.7 million project included — apart from construction — moving two buildings unaffected by the fire, demolishing the old building, removing fire-damaged soil, and treating asbestos. The project was funded with $1.1 million of insurance proceeds, and the remaining money came from emergency bonding and cash reserves.
“The lab will be used to test various road-surface materials to make sure they stand up to the elements once they are put down,” Kennedy said. “The fitness room will be available for any Johnson County employee to use, even though they may not have access to the shop.”
The facility’s two repair shops contain all the materials needed to fix anything that could go wrong with any of the vehicles used by the county, Kennedy said.
“It’s basically a one-stop shop,” he said. “If a specific part isn’t here, it can be special ordered and get to the shop within a day most of the time.”
The new facility is far superior to the previous building, said shop foreman Bob Mahoney.
“There is no comparison; it’s like night and day, literally,” he said. “The old facility was dark, and there was no air movement. It was dead.”
The repair shop in the facility contains two built-in equipment lifts; one capable of lifting 78,000 pounds and the other able to handle loads up to 90,000 pounds.
That means they are capable of hoisting any vehicle operated by the county, Kennedy said.
Sullivan said one of the focuses for the Board of Supervisors when deciding on a new building was better working conditions for employees.
“We wanted to give our employees the tools they need to do their jobs as best they can,” Sullivan said. “We invited the public today because we spent public money on this project, and it’s important people know what their money is going toward.”
Even though workers have used the new building since March, there is still one thing missing.
“The air conditioners aren’t hooked up yet; they’re still setting the cement to put them on,” Mahoney said. “I sure hope summer holds off and the weather stays like this until they get those put in.”