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NCI building progress on track despite weather
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Workers construct walls and floors Monday on the Baldwin Block uptown for the new NCI building. Despite the rainy weather recently, the building is on track for completion in May, according to NCI Executive Director William Wampler. (Bulletin photos by Mickey Powell)
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Rainy weather in recent days has not set back construction of the New College Institute’s new building in uptown Martinsville.

Construction began in May. Barring major unforeseen problems, said NCI Executive Director William Wampler, “all in all, we’re about where we need to be” to finish construction by the target date of May.

But it seems “it’s been the wettest week we’ve had all year and we’ve got the heaviest (construction equipment) out there now. I just hope it doesn’t sink” into the mud, Wampler said with a chuckle.

The three-story, roughly 50,000-square-foot structure is being constructed on the Dana O. Baldwin Block on the western edge of uptown. The first building specifically constructed for NCI, it will have space for new academic programs being developed in advanced manufacturing, entrepreneurship and health care technology. It also will have offices and public event space.

Monday was the day by which all contractors taking part in the project were to have started working there. Cranes were hoisting vertical steel beams as construction workers put them into place. Some exterior walls are up, and concrete had been poured for a retaining wall and one floor area.

Weather permitting, more concrete for floors will be poured by later this week or early next week, Wampler said.

However, there have been eight work days since construction started when “we couldn’t do any work” due to rain or the site being too wet, he said.

In some instances, construction cannot occur on days when the weather is good if the ground is too moist.

“You can’t grade (the site) if the soil is wet, and you can’t pour concrete if the subsurface is mud” because it will not set properly, Wampler said.

Contractors are trying to minimize mud and dirt their trucks track onto the streets, he said. He indicated, though, that following rains, mud and dirt on streets near construction sites cannot be totally avoided.

New Atlantic Contracting Inc. of Winston-Salem, N.C., is the project’s lead contractor.

At this phase of the construction, Wampler said, it becomes “a lot like an orchestra” with the conductor — New Atlantic — overseeing work done by subcontractors and making sure all of the work is done in sync.

For example, he said, the plumbing contractor must install floor drains at the same time that the concrete contractor is developing the floors.

The building’s construction is expected to cost about $13.3 million. About $17 million has been raised so far in federal and state funds and public and private grants to help pay for construction, equipment and furnishings.

A fundraising campaign continues because, according to Wampler, it is not yet known how much equipment and furnishings will cost altogether.


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