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District postpones school bids

School district officials Tuesday postponed advertising for bids on the $25 million Niagara Street School construction project for two weeks because of complications involving the tiles and precast concrete panels for the building's exterior.

Officials also increased the number of months contractors will have to complete the school's construction to 16 months from 14 months, a move which also will give contractors more time to obtain materials, such as structural steel and concrete, for the project.

The move will delay the planned opening of the school in January 2007. It is now slated to open in September of that year.

General, electrical, heating and air-conditioning, and plumbing contractors were scheduled to bid on the project Tuesday, but district Construction Manager Steven Rollins said a problem arose that forced officials to move the bidding date to Oct. 4.

"We had a bid specification that called for the yellow and red tiles to be cast in with the precast concrete panels at the manufacturer's plant," Rollins said. "It was brought to our attention in the past two days that the casting of the two items together is problematic for one of the area's major producers of precast panels. In fact, they say it's not advisable to do that."

Instead, Rollins said, the district eliminated the need for having "the tiles cast in with the precast panels, and we are now going to have the tiles [glued] to the panels [by the general contractor] at the construction site."

He said the change will have no effect on the integrity of the new building. "The tile is still made for exterior application. It has terrific integrity and, properly installed, will last just as long and function just as well as if we had them cast into the concrete panels."

The change will probably cost the school district a little more money, Rollins said.

The bidding was postponed so general contractors who plan to submit bids will be aware of the change so that can be considered in the bidding process.

"We felt this was important . . . so the playing field stays level," Rollins said.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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