University Site Update

The university project continues to make progress, although most people cannot see it physically.  There are many different paths of action that are running in parallel.  The majority of them currently are activities that involve a lot of paperwork.  Some of these include the widening of State Highway 260, permission to use the temporary entrance as a permanent construction entrance for equipment, the extension of the water lines, the burying of the APS power lines, the refining of the design of the buildings, the determination of the entrance having a signal, how big the water tank should be and where it should go, and last but not least, who is going to be our educational partner.

All of these activities have their own group of people who are working to get to the desired outcome.  And they are on a specific timeline for completion that needs coordination so that by May 2018 the academic partner will be able to take over the building and make it into their own unique learning center, and the housing partner will be able to get the rooms ready for all the students.

As we move deeper into the calendar year, the convergence of all these activities will start to take shape in the movement of dirt, and that is the thing that is going to be exciting.  The schedule is showing that the cooperation of many of the state agencies such as the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality along with the US Forest Service, the Town of Payson, and multiple subcontractors in pushing their respective actions is critical to being able to meet the mid to late July  “shovels in the ground” start.

The project management company Ryder Levitt Bucknall (RLB) has been hired to manage the complex schedule, as well as to oversee and coordinate with RSP Architects as they move their design through the various stages from Preliminary Design to Construction Documents. RLB will coordinate the selection of the Civil Contractor (Rummel/Intermountain West) and Building Contractor (TBD) who will be carefully and selectively shaping the ground and building the academic and student housing facilities. RLB will also interface with all the different agencies such as ADOT, ADEQ, the Town of Payson, as well as the local subcontractors participating, JNL and Tetra Tech.

Coordinating on the owner’s side is Rim Country Educational Foundation President Gary Cordell.  “We have the best of the best working on this project and we are on schedule and on budget for all work on this project since October 2015.  We have a long way to go, however many of the efforts to date are hidden in paperwork of designs, permits, and studies of soils, et cetera, and can’t be seen by the curious public.  And it can be frustrating not seeing something happening.  By the distribution of this newsletter next quarter, we will have made significant visual improvements on the site and that will help to satisfy the anxious supporters of this great project that we are making progress.”

Negotiations continue to secure an academic partner.  It is expected that shortly the decision as to who will be the anchor university for the site will be known.  Until then, the work on the site continues to move forward, as it must to meet the opening of the school in August of 2018. Soon there will be machines running surrounded with dirt clouds, and that will be a long overdue accomplishment.

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