FAIRMONT - Last winter was ideal for construction crews working on Fairmont's new water plant, but no one is making the assumption the weather will continue to cooperate.
The project is on schedule, with engineers anticipating the facility will be up and running by July 2013, but Rice Lake Construction is not taking any chances. The company has its employees working overtime, said Jason Kosmatka, project manager with Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services.
"There's a big push to get the building enclosed before the snow flies," he said. "It's pretty unlikely we'll have another winter like last year."
The PUC took a tour of the new water plant Tuesday morning, checking out the inner workings of the facility.
On Tuesday morning, Public Utility commissioners toured the bare-bones facility. With a slow, cold drizzle dampening the scene, they walked across a dirt lot that will soon be a museum to showcase the history of local water treatment. A staircase leads to a second floor with no roof but the sky. In the coming months, it will grow to resemble the plant's control room, but for now the open wall offers a clear view of the site, where electrical, mechanical and plumbing contractors are busy installing miles of wiring, ductwork and piping.
"There's a lot of concrete to pour yet to the south," Kosmatka said. "... Once they get that poured, everything is pre-cast."
In the coming days, 100-foot Tees from Wells Concrete will slowly, carefully wind their way through Fairmont. On site, a 300-foot crane - the largest yet for the project - will then maneuver the Tees in place.
Across the street from the construction work is the current water plant. Out of sight from the public, around the rear of the facility, workers are installing block for the new shallow intake area.
"This is the only structure sitting out here that will remain," Kosmatka said.
Once the new plant is operational, the existing one is slated for demolition in 2014. Aside from the intake buildings, the rest of the structure will be removed, and the property will be turned into public green space.
"This is the part I'm dreading most," Kosmatka said, referring to the demolition.
Asbestos has been found in the footings and throughout the plant, which is sure to create some headaches for the city in order to meet environmental standards for safe removal of the hazardous substance.
So far, the project is financially on target, with less than $26,000 in change orders. The estimated cost of the plant is $30 million.