At a glance
• The Memorial Hospital plans to begin the first phases of hospital construction early next week.
• Work completed at the hospital site up to this point has solely met subdivision requirements.
• The first phase includes site leveling and drilling holes for foundational piers and will cost about $1.2 million.
• TMH officials are waiting for permits from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to begin early work.
• Permits will allow construction to begin on the hospital before HUD gives the project full approval.
• TMH officials expect to receive full HUD approval for new hospital construction in July or August.
Taxpayers could begin seeing the first fruits of their vote to fund a new hospital facility by early next week.
Site leveling and foundational reinforcement work make up the early phases of the hospital construction, said George Rohrich, The Memorial Hospital chief executive officer.
On Friday afternoon, he was waiting for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to grant permits allowing early construction to begin.
He wasn't the only person on hold Friday afternoon. Construction crews also were standing by, waiting for the federal government's go-ahead to begin work on the new hospital site west of Craig.
"They're chomping at the bit to turn the engines on," Rohrich said.
HUD permits would allow work to begin on the hospital before the project receives full approval from the government entity.
Rohrich hadn't heard word from HUD by the close of business Friday.
Still, he said, that doesn't mean early work won't begin.
"We are waiting any moment now until Monday morning for final permit to begin early work," he said, adding that he could say "with confidence" that early construction would begin the first part of next week.
First construction phases will mark the beginning of an estimated $42.6 million project, which voters approved to pay about 50 percent of in November 2007.
Work completed on the site so far solely has met subdivision requirements, including installing infrastructure.
"It's the first step," Rohrich said. "We're all really excited."
Twin Peaks Utilities and Infrastructure will begin leveling the site per the company's contract with TMH. Drilling holes for foundational supports is scheduled to follow.
Steel-reinforced concrete piers measuring about 18 inches in diameter will fill the holes, Rohrich said, and will prevent the foundation from slipping.
The need for foundational support is "our fortune in life in this part of the world, because of the dirt we have," he said.
The first two stages of hospital construction will cost about $1.2 million.
Although HUD-issued permits allow the hospital to begin construction before its project receives full approval, they don't exempt the hospital from possible financial repercussions.
If the new hospital doesn't receive HUD approval, TMH officials will bear responsibility for the estimated $1.2 million cost of early construction.
Rohrich said he and other hospital officials don't believe that scenario will play out.
"We are confident we will get approval," he said, adding that hospital officials have been in "frequent communications" with HUD during the approval process.
Rohrich said he expects to receive full HUD approval in July or August.
Samantha Johnston, TMH service excellence officer, said the first signs of hospital construction will send a clear message to community members.
"I think by moving dirt and getting things going, either by pre-approval or not, it shows that this project is going to move forward," she said.
"I have no doubt that the administration and (hospital) board are committed to building this facility no matter what," Johnston said. "Regardless of where we are in the approval process, this facility's going to get built."
Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or email@example.com