MINNEAPOLIS-Metro Transit has begun building a new $3-million control center in North Minneapolis on what was once a tax-forfeited Superfund site. The project will accelerate the cleanup of the former Doc’s Auto Salvage at 10th and Eighth Avenues, which was once filled with piles of wrecked cars, leaking batteries and scrapped tires.

Metro Transit will build an 11,500-sf building, which will replace its 1,000-sf space at the bus agency’s headquarters. The project is expected to be completed by May.

The center will be the primary communications, emergency dispatch and operations hub for the metropolitan area bus fleet.

The project was the result of an innovative joint powers agreement in which the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency turned over the $750,000 cleanup task to Hennepin County, allowing it to be completed at a much faster pace than the state agency could go. The agency will reimburse the county $400,000 in state Superfund money, while the federal Environmental Protection Agency will kick in $200,000 for the removal of 3,600 tons of lead-contaminated soil from the property.

The unusual collaboration prevented the site from being tied up for months, if not years, says Hennepin County Commissioner Mark Stenglein. The additional space will allow the center to expand as more bus routes begin to provide 24-hour service.

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