HU facility behind schedule
Despite some unexpected construction challenges, Hartselle Utilities expects to occupy its new administrative service center on North Sparkman Street in early June.
"We have an expected completion date of May 15," HU board chairman Buzz Howell said. "But because of final punch lists inspections and scheduling we don't expect to be in the new building before the first of (June)."
Construction on the new facility began in late July of last year with an expected completion date in March. Almost immediately, construction challenges caused those plans to be delayed.
Rock is usually found at shallow depths in Hartselle, but the utility's site on North Sparkman proved different.
"Everywhere we have to dig in Hartselle we hit rock. But when we build, we had to dig down 14 or 15 feet to find rock," Howell said.
Fite Construction Co. of Decatur had to install concrete piers and a special foundation for the building due to the sponginess of the ground at the construction site and the depth of bedrock.
The construction of reinforced concrete walls for the building's first floor storm shelter also took longer than anticipated, Howell said.
Despite the construction delays, Howell said the building is coming in slightly below the anticipated price tag.
The new building was at the center of a political storm nearly a year ago. After nearly a month of delay by HU board members concerned about rising construction costs and opposition from the city council, the board approved the $1.9 million building by a 3-2 vote.
The utility had been making plans for a new building since at least 1998, when it approved a$4.9 million bond issue to cover the cost of a new building and warehouse.
The new building features a ground floor that can serve as a storm shelter, providing protection to vital utility equipment in case of a disastrous storm.
According to architect Fred Underwood, the top floor of the building could be blown away, but emergency services and monitoring equipment in the ground-floor level should survive to allow for a quick restoration of services to Hartselle.
The new building also will have a drive up window, space for current employees and expanded lobby and boardroom facilities.