Metro recently opened a new, $4.3 million paint facility that will be used to prepare and repaint MetroLink’s 87 Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs), many of which have been in service since the 1990s and require fresh paint to maintain their structural integrity. Metro has been manually repainting the LRVs at its maintenance facility in St. Louis. The new paint booth is expected to improve the repainting process and minimize the environmental impact of maintaining the trains.
Located in East St. Louis, Ill., the 9,600-square-foot pre-cast panel structure contains two distinct work areas, one of which is the totally enclosed paint booth. This design enables Metro employees to clean and prepare the trains for painting on one side of the facility, while other trains are simultaneously being painted on the other. The prep area includes a dust collection system that is one of the “green” features of the operation. Six separate work areas in the prep bay, where employees use various air tools, are tied into a central vacuum system that will collect all the dust and other particles and transport them to dust collection bags in a separate room.
The paint booth itself is equipped with two automated “lifts” that give the individuals applying the spray paint easy access to all parts of the train. Each lift can accommodate up to two painters, further streamlining the process. The trains are painted with low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint, and an extensive exhaust system helps to minimize the environmental impact of the process, while also reducing the risk of dust or other particles marring the paint job.
Plocher Construction Company of Highland, Ill., was the general contractor for the project, which was awarded in September 2008 and included civil site work, utility work and track work, in addition to the building and paint booth construction. The Light Rail Vehicles that will be repainted at the new facility operate all along the entire alignment in St. Louis City and St. Louis County in Mo. and in St. Clair County, Ill.