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Niagara Street School project under way

NIAGARA FALLS -- Like the first flowers of spring, the structural steel has been rising out of the ground for the three-story academic wing of the new Niagara Street School for more than a week.

"We are right on schedule. We're doing very well," project manager Kelley Culp said of the $16.8 million project. Culp is in charge of the project for the School Board's construction manager, Rollins Construction Management.

The construction site had looked like a flat, pitted wasteland for the past three months.

"The first piece of steel went up March 22 on the academic wing and that should be wrapped up probably on Tuesday," Culp said. "Then we'll go to the decking [the floor supports]. We'll continue to put up steel for the community wing, where they'll have the auditorium, the pool, the gym and the cafeteria. All the structural steel work should be done by mid-May.

"After that, you'll start seeing the precast concrete exterior panels and windows going in. That will take us through the beginning of July," she said.

Culp expects the building to be finished in April 2007, the target month for completion.

The project began last December. Even though the construction site has looked pitted and flat for the past 3 1/2 months, Culp said a lot has been accomplished.

"About 90 percent of the foundations are in," she said. The caissons -- below-ground supports -- are complete and workers are finishing up the horizontal concrete beams that fit between the caissons. "That's what the walls sit on," Culp said. "That should be done by Tuesday."

She also said the underground electrical and plumbing work already has been done in the academic wing, and workers will start on the community building during the next two weeks.

Boiler room work in the community building and sewer and water work also has started.

"We should be ready to work on the interiors in September," Culp said.

Even the asbestos removal school officials had been concerned with was less of a task than anticipated.

"We had less asbestos than we thought. It cleaned up very well," Culp said.

Darrin Chiappone, owner of Iron Erecting Co. of Lockport, said, "This is one of the better projects I've done and I've done a lot of projects. The whole site, right down to the engineering and planning of it, ranks as one of the better ones I've worked on. That's because a lot of times you get on site and nobody seems to know what anybody's doing. Not here. It's been [very well organized]."

Culp said about 60 percent of the foundations of the community wing also has been completed.


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