Contractors hard-pressed for housing

Even booking three months early, contractors are finding that housing their employees is going to be near impossible this fall.

Gregory & Cook Con--struction, the contractor for the Western Interstate Company pipeline, already is looking for "rooms, bunkhouses, trailer spaces, trailer houses apartments or houses" that anyone would consider renting.

F.H. Harrell, field office man----ager for Gregory & Cook Construction, said the company will have 300 workers in the area from mid-September possibly to mid-January as it lays pipe from the Meeker area to Wyoming.

About half those workers already are employed by Greg--ory & Cook. The rest, Harrell said, will be hired locally.

Harrell said that he has booked nearly all the hotel rooms he can but that he is still short at least 40. He estimates that about 100 rooms are needed. Some workers will provide their own accommodations.

"We've booked everything we've thought these employees can afford," he said.

The workers will be paid a per diem to cover housing -- the company doesn't pay it for them.

Harrell said that he's looking for housing in the $220 to $240 a week range and that the biggest need is Oct. 20 to Nov. 15 -- a time when hotels already are booked for hunting season. But the company will need to house workers the entire time they're here.

Harrell said the company already is looking for lodging in Steamboat Springs during that busy time, but high prices make that a difficult option to consider.

"We feel confident we'll find places for everyone to stay," he said.

This is only the beginning of the influx. This project, another pipeline project scheduled for the same time and an outage at the Craig Station Power Plant will bring about 1,200 workers to town this fall -- more than the town's 500 rooms can accommodate.

Harrell said that he's had to get creative about housing in the past, but that Craig likely will present one of the biggest challenges he's had.

"Craig's not a real large place, and there's not a lot of rooms," he said. "This is the first time we've laid line so close to another company at the same time."

Anyone interested in renting a room or other accommodations can call 326-8773 or 326-8775.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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