The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has received a $4,175,200 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to build a new Metrobus garage in Rockville.

Metro has proposed acquiring 17 acres of land east of Rockville Pike at Nicholson Lane and Nebel Street for the faculty, which Metro officials say will relieve overcrowding in their two existing bus garages, Northern and Bladensburg.

Nicholson Lane is half-mile stretch of road that borders White Flint Mall and has several discount shopping outlets. All properties on the proposed site are vacant, except one used by Colonial Dodge Auto Dealers as a storage lot.

The DOT grant represents 80 percent of the funding needed for the garage. Local regional funds will supply the remaining $1,043,800.

The planned facility will accommodate 250 buses with space for maintenance and cleaning. In addition to the 280-foot by 210-foot garage, a smaller fare collection building is scheduled for construction.

The facility will permit the development of better and more efficient bus operations in the northwest service area, according to DOT.

"An economically operating, regular bus system must have this kind of facility spaced strategically around the region," explained Cody Pfanstiehl, Metro director of community services. "This is part of Metro general manager Ted Lutz's complete program to rejuvenate the public bus system."

Public hearings on the project have been held, but no construction date has been set.