Lloyd Powers, of Baker Concrete, uses survey equipment to align piers for anchor bolts Friday at the site for the new The Memorial Hospital building. Drilling for piers on the site began Thursday.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Lloyd Powers, of Baker Concrete, uses survey equipment to align piers for anchor bolts Friday at the site for the new The Memorial Hospital building. Drilling for piers on the site began Thursday.

Next stage under way in TMH construction

Partial permit issued, final permit anticipated by month's end

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At a glance

• Work began Thursday on drilling foundational piers for the new The Memorial Hospital.

• All subcontractors working on the site now have licensure from city.

• Crews will drill and install 15 piers per day starting Monday, if weather allows.

• Project estimated to last a month.

• Robins & Morton, general contractor for the project, has partial permit for pier drilling.

• Final permit is anticipated by time drilling is finished.

There's evidence to prove that plans for building a new hospital are moving forward.

On Thursday, workers began drilling holes for piers that will support the new facility's foundation. The start came two days later than George Rohrich, The Memorial Hospital chief executive officer, anticipated Monday.

However, a hospital official and an administrator from Robins & Morton, the project's general contractor, expect no more delays - at least, not from human causes.

More than 200 piers will connect the hospital's foundation with bedrock beneath it. At most, piers will extend 23 feet into the ground.

Starting Monday, crews could install 15 piers daily, if conditions allow it.

According to those numbers, pier installation could be finished in a little more than 13 work days.

Barry Rodgers, Robins & Morton assistant superintendent, anticipates the work will be completed within a month's time, "weather permitting," he said.

Weather aside, Rodgers doesn't anticipate any other delays hindering work on the site.

TMH officials met with a temporary setback earlier this week when Dave Costa, Craig community development director, said two contractors working on the site hadn't received city licensure.

As a result, drilling for pier installation didn't begin Tuesday, as was initially planned.

Rohrich said he didn't hear about the delay until Monday night, adding that he hadn't been in contact with the project's superintendent since early Monday morning.

By Friday, however, the issue had been resolved.

"All (subcontractors who) are on the project now have passed all tests and have got all their licenses," Rodgers said.

Costa confirmed that TMH had received a partial permit that will allow it to complete pier drilling and installation on the site.

Rodgers said not having a full-time representative from Robins & Morton could have contributed to some miscommunication between the city and workers at the TMH site.

However, he doesn't expect that to happen again.

"As it stands right now, with me being up here, (there will) be no more misunderstandings or miscommunications between the contractor and the city and my (subcontractors)," Rodgers said. "Everything should run smooth from this point on."

By the time the piers are finished, TMH officials expect to have a final permit from the city.

At about the same time, they expect to know whether the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will commit to guaranteeing, or essentially co-signing, a loan for the hospital.

"In my opinion, HUD will give us the guarantee just because we've put so much time and effort at into making sure we have a solid package," said Samantha Johnston, TMH service excellence officer.

The hospital is estimated to cost $42.6 million. In November 2007, voters approved to pay for about half of that sum.

Although the timeline for new hospital construction has been set back, the project is still on budget. Johnston said bids for work have been approved and steel for upcoming construction has already been purchased.

Unforeseen delays caused by bad weather could require the hospital to fall back on contingency costs built into the budget.

For now, however, crews will aim to compensate for a late start. Johnston thinks that's a goal within reach.

"We think we can make up for lost time," Johnston said.

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