EAU CLAIRE — The city and county of Eau Claire could be collaborating when the county’s new highway facility opens.

During the Eau Claire County Highway Building Committee’s meeting Wednesday, Highway Commissioner Jon Johnson said the city of Eau Claire expressed interest in using materials and space at the new facility on the south side of Eau Claire near U.S. 53 and Highway I that is scheduled to be completed in October 2022.

Johnson said the city might use the county facility to store snowplows and maintenance trucks, along with receiving materials like salt, sand and fuel to more easily service roads in south Eau Claire.

No details have been finalized, and Johnson said he will know more information after a meeting today between the city and county. If the two entities agree to collaborate, the city would pay the county for any additional costs.

Design updates

Bob Sworski, vice president at CBS Squared, the firm handling architectural and engineering aspects of the highway facility, said the design process for the facility will take “no more than seven months.”

Sworski said touring similar highway facilities around the state built in the past few years will aid the design process.

Those buildings “will serve as good examples of newer, more modern facilities (and) how they’re being designed,” Sworski said. “We feel confident taking these tours … can help shave off about a month’s worth of design time.”

Some Highway Building Committee members and county officials plan to tour at least one similar facility in the near future, though a date and facility have not yet been determined.

The committee also received information on the facility’s infrastructure details. Preparing for electric vehicles will be part of the design, Sworski said, such as having charging stations with chords hanging overhead that can drop down to charge vehicles.

Sworski also said the highway facility will be designed as a secondary emergency operation center. Matt Theisen, county facilities director, said the secondary EOC will run on emergency power.

Theisen added that the county is considering using solar and geothermal energy to help power the facility.

Meals on Wheels kitchen

The committee approved moving forward with existing design plans to incorporate the Meals on Wheels kitchen as part of the highway facility. The Meals on Wheels program is part of the county Aging and Disability Resource Center and currently uses a kitchen in Fall Creek.

The next Highway Building Committee meeting is scheduled for May 5.