Campus construction on target for finish
Senior Staff Writer
The expansion of Sierra College’s Grass Valley campus is about 25 percent complete, as good weather has allowed contractors to work unimpeded since April.
“We’re on target to finish in March 2009,” with phase one of the two-phase expansion, said Dave Dovichi, project manager for contractor Turner Construction Company of Sacramento.
The $27.5 million initial phase includes two new arts buildings, a classroom building, a utilities structure to house boilers and air conditioning units and a large pad area for firefighter training, according to Ray Cunningham, director of construction management for the college district.
Phase two will cost $19.5 million, according to Doug Smith, the college district’s vice-president for finance. It will include a gymnasium, multipurpose building and a wellness center, Cunningham said.
The phase two buildings were scaled down amid a controversy sparked by some residents, who said they expected a new performing arts center or large gymnasium out of the project.
They based their complaints on the college’s initial sales pitch to voters for the bond issue needed to float the expansion.
College officials said the expansion had to be revised when construction costs began to rise after the $47 million expansion project was approved by voters in the November 2004 bond election.
The bonds are expected to bring in $44.7 million, creating at least a $2.3 million shortfall the college district will have to deal with in the future if more project cuts aren’t implemented.
“We’re hoping we can start (phase two) right after phase one is done. It will be cheaper that way,” Cunningham said. “It will take another year, and we’re still working with the architects on it.”
Grading the steep hillside from Sierra College Drive to the campus for building platforms has been the hardest part of the job, but crews have not run into the area’s typical hard rock, Smith said.
“The majority of the earthwork is now complete and that was a milestone,” Dovichi said. “After we get things elevated, we can pour the slabs and build the buildings as quickly as possible. We’re over the hump, so to speak.”
Crews and large equipment are busy on the site, with two buildings starting to take shape. Graders and bulldozers are working on the fire training site pad, located on several acres behind the Grass Valley Fire Department Station just below campus.
The fire training site is a $2 million portion of the first phase, Smith said. The college is building the site in hopes that area fire agencies can receive grant funds to complete it.
A similar training site is located in Roseville, “and all the agencies down there use it,” Cunningham said.
To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4237.
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