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Judicial complex construction to begin next week

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By Jennifer Garcia

Starting next week, residents will find Oppenheimer Drive closed for construction as work starts on the new Judicial/Police/Jail complex.

Capital Projects Manager Anne Laurent and Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman were in council chambers for Tuesday night’s meeting to ask that council approve the services agreement with HB Construction of Albuquerque, authorizing them to move forward with work associated with the JPJ complex.

Council voted 6-1 to pass the motion, with Vice Chair Robert Gibson voting against it.

The construction start date was moved from Nov. 3 to Oct. 20 because of weather and trying to avoid new year prices (for materials), Laurent said.

“We are staying on track and moving forward rapidly,” she said.

The agreement that council passed last night is for work associated with Guaranteed Maximum Price #1 in the amount of $2,656,758, plus applicable gross receipts tax.

Laurent and Zimmerman will return to council in December, with Guaranteed Maximum Price #2.

Construction associated with GMP #1 includes mobilization, site demolition, underground site utilities, earthwork, drilled piers, grade beams, electrical and plumbing underground work, slab on grade and all necessary temporary utility work to keep the existing police/jail facility operational.

Zimmerman said it was decided that Oppenheimer would be closed to avoid having to cordon off the municipal site building for up to three years while construction is being done.

Councilor Jim West asked Zimmerman whether the east side of the police building had been considered as a staging point for construction. Zimmerman replied, ”Yes, it will be used along with Oppenheimer.”

Councilor Michael Wheeler commended Zimmerman for leaving the old municipal building site open for public events. He also said he was in favor of the motion Zimmerman and Laurent had presented.

Councilor Ken Milder was confused about traffic.

“I don’t understand how traffic flow will work,” he said.

Zimmerman assured him that there is a low volume of traffic that uses the area. He also said that a fence would be put up on the police side of the median, and the lanes would be reduced from four to two.

Councilor Frances Berting questioned a cost comparison regarding building demolition in the amount of $502,000. She wanted to know what, exactly, was being demolished.

“Retaining walls and site demolition,” Laurent said. “It’s the site demolition that we’re talking about.”

Councilor Nona Bowman asked whether there was an added cost for the demolition, or whether there was a set cost for the JPJ complex.

Zimmerman said the project is still in the $20 million range.

Council Chair Jim Hall made clear his thoughts on the project when he said, “I think we aren’t going to stop it (the project).Going back and redesigning for less space would cost more.”

He also told Zimmerman he hopes that Oppenheimer Drive is permanently reduced to two lanes.

He also voiced his concern over the empty space that the JPJ complex will likely have due to the size of it.

“I hope that by the time we build this building, it’s full (of county employees),” Hall said.