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New hall deadline still stands

July completion date firm despite delay

by Sally Claunch
The Shorthorn staff

Construction on the new residence hall is behind schedule by about four weeks, but administrators have implemented a contingency plan to ensure that it will be finished by the original date of July 15.

John Hall, associate vice president for finance and operations, said crews will make up the lost time at the end of this month.

He said that the framing phase, in which construction crews put up the wooden frame supporting the structure, should begin in about two weeks. All of the lost time can be made up during this phase, and the project can even move ahead of schedule. He said the project had 16 weeks slated for framing, but the framing contractor expects to be finished in about six weeks.

"Even if it takes him twice as long as he anticipates, that's still twelve weeks, which is still four weeks less than what we had in the schedule," Hall said. "That will allow us to get that four week period that we're behind caught back up."

Hall has spoken to the general contractor and asked that a plan be developed to accelerate other phases of construction with an estimate of additional costs for speeding up the process.

"We will decide what to do to get caught up or maintain the project schedule or to possibly get ahead of the project schedule in subsequent phases," he said.

Hall said the project is behind schedule because excavation for the building has taken longer than expected.

"It was not a weather-related problem," he said. "I think it was more of a man-power, staffing, scheduling problem on the part of the excavation contractor."

University President Robert Witt said that considering the scope of the project, construction is expected to sometimes run ahead or behind schedule.

"I am not at all concerned with the current rate of progress on the residence hall," he said. "I am confident it will be completed on time."

Hall said that the cost of such contingency plans was figured into the $22 million price tag on the hall.

The price also allows university officials to add certain amenities to the hall as construction continues, he said.

Some of the options include built-in shelving, upgrading light and plumbing fixtures and adding additional landscaping to the property.

Laurelyn Gaede, assistant director of residence life and operations, said that about 180 people have applied to live in the new hall. She said she is confident the building will be finished on time. She added that, in case the building is finished late, housing will not book the hall beyond the number of finished rooms.

"We will avoid tripling or placing students in hotels like some other campuses," Gaede said. "If the construction company says they have 300 beds, we will only book 300."

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