Matt Dull, assistant vice chancellor for finance and operations, shares updates concerning construction projects on Appalachian's campus, including changes to Stadium Lot and the building progress for the parking deck at the site of former Winkler Hall.
Dave Blanks: Hello once again, folks. I am Dave Blanks from University Communications, joined by Mr. Matt Dull. Hello, Matt Dull.
Matt Dull: Hey, Dave. What's up man?
Dave Blanks: What's up man?
Matt Dull: Not much. Great weather week.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, I was going to say, let's talk about the weather a little bit. So, this is the campus construction update, where we're going to talk to you about the west side of campus and that project that's going on right now. So, as you mentioned, it's been raining. How has that affected the schedule?
Matt Dull: Yeah, it's been a wet week. It hasn't had a significant effect on the schedule. We've been able to keep parts of the project moving; some things that don't necessarily require the best weather. For example, things like … we've been able to start removing asphalt from the Stadium Lot parking lot and some of the concrete and sidewalks and curbs, and those kind of things that are really going to be our building site for our residence hall.
That's been able to happen this week. We're a good ways down the road on that part of the project, so that's been productive for a rainy week.
Dave Blanks: That's positive.
Matt Dull: We've been able to move the construction trailer in this past week, get that on site for offices for our contractor and their subcontractors. So we've also been able to start removing some of the light poles that were in the Stadium Lot parking lot and getting those out of the way to be able to start creating our building site.
Dave Blanks: Hey, are we getting cool new light poles?
Matt Dull: Probably —
Dave Blanks: Yeah, no?
Matt Dull: Probably not.
Dave Blanks: We're using the same light poles?
Matt Dull: It's probably the same light poles. It's sustainable.
Dave Blanks: Hey, hey, they work, right?
Matt Dull: They work. Yeah. We use them.
Dave Blanks: That's cool.
Matt Dull: Yeah. So, we're in the process of removing some of the parking lot light poles, which also means you have to make sure that you keep the existing poles that are in the parking lot lit.
Dave Blanks: Yeah. You need something.
Matt Dull: You need something there for people that are parking in the parking lot, so we're in the process of making sure all of the lights that are staying in the Stadium Lot are operational for the rest of the spring semester while students are parking in that lot.
Dave Blanks: So, last time, on the last podcast, we talked about pouring footers. That probably hasn't been happening, because you need drier weather?
Matt Dull: You need a little dry, a little warm weather. It's happened a little bit this week.
Dave Blanks: Oh, OK.
Matt Dull: But we're really starting to continue to work on the foundation footers, some of the foundation walls. So that will continue really through all of March. So, it's not a kind of one-week process; it's a multiweek. Really through the whole month of March we'll be doing a lot on the parking deck side of pouring footers, pouring those foundation walls, getting the site ready to be able to start bringing in all of those prefabricated concrete panels and structure for that parking deck at the beginning of April.
Dave Blanks: As we've mentioned, they're making those off-site, and like you said prefab, bringing them in, setting them up with, I guess, a crane?
Matt Dull: Yeah. We'll have a crane on-site. They'll be bringing in about between 10 and 12 panels every day on the back of large trucks, and kind of bringing them into the site, pulling them off, putting them right into place in the parking deck where they belong, and the truck will leave and the next truck will come.
So it'll be a continuous stream every 30, 45 minutes or so of a different truck coming in and offloading that parking deck structure, and that'll be for about a four- to six-week period that we'll be creating that prefabricated structure and having that crane on-site to build the parking deck.
Dave Blanks: OK. So when will that begin?
Matt Dull: So, it should start right at the beginning of April. So, we're still on schedule with the project to really begin that the first week of April or so. Again, weather dependent over the next couple of weeks, just as long as we can get all of the footings and all of the other concrete work done.
Dave Blanks: Excellent. OK, what else?
Matt Dull: So we're also in the process of putting up a silt fence around the perimeter of the site. That helps keep any kind of runoff of water, as well as any kind of silt and sand and dirt from leaving the site and getting into the stormwater system in the town. So, that's all done on the project and getting wrapped up this week.
We're also trying to work on signage as well, trying to get all of the project signage up, all of the safety information, construction entrance signage. A lot going on, just really getting the site prepared for construction.
Dave Blanks: Sounds great. Sounds like a productive week despite the not-so-fantastic weather. So Matt, definitely a lot going on on the west side of campus right now, so how are you coordinating all of those different groups, all of that?
Matt Dull: Yeah, that's a great question. Lots to coordinate. We've got, both our designers ... there's a designer that's working on the residence halls and the parking deck, it's the same designer, and then we have another designer right across Jack Branch Road doing all the design for the Kidd Brewer north end zone project.
And those two designers, we're now getting them to work together to start developing their plans for all the underground utilities, the things that we don't see every day, so things like steam and stormwater, domestic water, fiber connections, telephone lines, electric lines, and making sure that where we place those are the most efficient for both of our projects.
We're trying to get those contractors, we're trying to get the designers who are the architects and engineers all in the same room. We're having meetings once a week trying to pull those groups together on ... just to help coordinate everything that's going on along that, especially around Jack Branch Road. There's a lot going on on both sides of that road.
Dave Blanks: That's where the two meet, kind of?
Matt Dull: That's really where the two projects meet, and both projects have a little bit of work, kind of, in the road itself to connect their projects to utilities and that kind of thing.
Dave Blanks: Well, are they getting along?
Matt Dull: Yeah, they really are, actually. It's been really fun. It's been fun to see each other's projects and just see the progress in each other's projects, and how we've been progressing forward over the past few months.
You know, there's all sorts of things to coordinate that you don't think of — even like crosswalks. Where our crosswalks are today. We've got some raised crosswalks over there on Jack Branch Road. Well, when we get these buildings done, where that crosswalk is doesn't really make sense anymore.
Dave Blanks: Yeah, it needs to change.
Matt Dull: And so, it's trying to get all the teams on everything from utilities, to crosswalks, to how do pedestrians safely travel around the area, or how do cars safely travel around the area, or how do we have cars as well as construction traffic all co-mingling in the same few acres. And it's really important to get all of the contractors, all of the designers, all in the same place and on the same page to make sure that it's a safe construction site for everyone.
Dave Blanks: Well, I'm glad that's working.
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: So Matt, if there are no more updates … are those all the updates for now?
Matt Dull: Yeah, I think that's all the updates.
Dave Blanks: OK, great. We'll get more updates on the next episode. I'll end up with a question here, the last thing I'll talk to you about. So we’ve got a question, and it was — so, we're tearing down some dorms …
Matt Dull: Yeah.
Dave Blanks: Does that mean that we will have fewer beds for students while this project is going on? How are we handling that?
Matt Dull: Yeah, that's a really common question that people ask a lot. The residence hall project will allow us to never have a decrease in the number of beds we have on campus. That was really important to us. On-campus housing is really important to the student experience, and we wanted to make sure that we always had a consistent number of on-campus beds throughout this project.
And one way that's achieved is Building 100 and 200 do not require us to tear down a building. So we'll actually be able to build our first phase, which is almost 1,000 beds in Building 100 and 200, before we actually have to tear anything down. So that allows us to build those and then move students from an existing residence hall, like Justice Hall for example, into those buildings before we tear Justice Hall down. And that would be the same for all of the other buildings that we plan to take down as a part of this project.
So, throughout the project, there should be no decrease in the number of on-campus beds. It may actually end up being an increase in on-campus beds even sooner than when it's finished in 2022.
Dave Blanks: Excellent. All right. Well, Matt Dull, thank you so much for your time today, and we will do it again, sir.
Matt Dull: Sounds great. Thanks for your time, Dave.
Dave Blanks: Thank you.
Matt Dull: Appreciate it.