JPJ construction on schedule

-A A +A
By Jennifer Garcia

Decent weather, no major problems and a contractor who has stayed on task are all being cited as reasons the Judicial/Police/Jail Complex construction is on track.

Project Manager Victor Martinez said he has not encountered any problems with HB Construction Inc., the contractor from Albuquerque that is working on the project.

“The project is progressing very rapidly. Our schedule is very aggressive,” Martinez said.

Work on the project has been in full swing, following the October ground-breaking ceremony.

In addition, Guaranteed Maximum Price #2 in the amount of $15 million was approved during the Dec. 16 county council meeting. Also during that meeting, the 100 percent design development presentation was approved by council.

The FY 09 budget for this project was approved in the amount of $20 million.

Prior to the meeting during which GMP #2 was approved, the project’s future hung in the balance, because of two citizen petitions that were spearheaded by local business owner Min Park.

The first petition, asking councilors to scrap the JPJ project was presented to council at the end of November.

After councilors voted to proceed with the project, Park and other Los Alamos County residents presented council with another petition, asking that GMP #2 not be approved. Despite residents’ efforts, council voted to approve the second GMP.

So far, the concrete slabs for the courts building have been poured. This was a huge milestone in the project’s progress, Martinez said.

Masonry block work started this past week on the courts building, as well. Martinez said that the underground rough-in plumbing and electrical work is progressing very rapidly. This work includes the concrete grade beams for the foundation of the jail building.

Other on-site utilities are also progressing rapidly, Martinez said. The final construction activity to date involves the minor demolition in the existing police building, to make way for the new utility rooms.

“We’ve had good weather this winter, so there have been no delays. The 4/10 work schedule has helped out, too,” Martinez commented. Crews have had shorter workweeks, but longer hours.

They are working 10-hour days four days a week.

Masonry block for the elevator shaft rooms, mechanical rooms, stairwells and restrooms for the courts building will continue to be laid over the next two weeks. Crews will also continue to form grade beams for the foundation in the jail, to include under slab rough-in electrical, plumbing and the placement of reinforcing steel.

They will also continue to place the sanitary sewer line and the tie-in for the sanitary sewer line, as well as the fire hydrant tie-in. Onsite electrical and plumbing activities will also continue over the next two weeks.

Martinez said the most challenging aspect of this project has been parking for police officers and county staff.

“The police officers are parking on Central Avenue and a lot of the county employees are also parking on Central,” he said. “Parking has not been fun.”

He also said that overflow parking is located at the library by the park and ride pick-up point and also across from Ashley Pond on the community building side.

Martinez said most of the single-story new addition to the jail is going to be used for the housing of prisoners and detention support functions requiring the development of new code-compliant jail cells and detention support facilities.

The design will allow for expansion of the jail cell and day room areas to accommodate a future second story.

The new construction will be attached to the west side of the existing building.

As far as the police-jail area is concerned, that single story structure will be entirely gutted. Completely new plumbing, electrical and mechanical, as well as data and IT functions will be added to this building.

Most of the police administrative functions will be placed in the renovated space. The two additions will be attached to the west and east sides of the existing building.

The municipal court, municipal clerk and administrative functions for the new courthouse building will be located on the first floor, along with the hearing room.

Magistrate and district courts as well as clerk and administrative functions will occupy the second floor.

Since the beginning of construction on the complex, one lane of Oppenheimer has been blocked off, to act as a staging point for construction.

Traffic Operations Manager Alipio Mondragon said a traffic count on Oppenheimer was conducted in December. He said the results showed that 1,184 vehicles go through that stretch of road daily.

The count showed 700 vehicles per day traveled southbound, while 484 vehicles traveled northbound. He also said there have not been any problems reported or complaints received because of the closure.

During construction, jail and police functions will be in 24-hour operation in the existing police building, to include daily administration staff.

The project is being designed for sustainability and to the standards of LEED 2.2 Silver rating. This includes participation in the formal LEED certification process from the design through construction phases.

Martinez said that completion of the courts and jail building is scheduled tentatively for November, after which time staff from these two entities would move in.

The completion date for the entire project is set for July 30, 2010.