The weather outside may be frightful, but construction crews are trying to dodge the worst of the deep freeze while still making progress on St. Michael-Albertville school district’s bond projects. Ryan Breitbach of Breitbach Construction provided an update on the winter construction process at last week’s board meeting.
For construction projects, Breitbach said Middle School East’s secure entrance was completed in December. The other two secure entrances were completed over the summer.
Albertville Primary’s addition has its steel structure standing and the decking is on. Crews completed a couple bigger projects over Christmas break, such as installing masonry wall inside the existing receiving room, which will be a future corridor connecting the cafeteria to the addition. They also installed the conduit and wiring required to provide power to the addition.
Over at the STMA High School, the school addition’s foundations are complete and Breitbach said they are waiting on the structural steel, which is currently in fabrication and set for a Jan. 22 delivery.
For the all-purpose athletic facility, he said soil correction is 100 percent complete and site utilities are being re-routed. The new storm/sewer line is in place and crews have been tearing out the old one. Visitor bleacher foundations are close to completion, piers that support the grandstand are in place and they are working on foundation for the storage building. More excavation for soil correction in the home bleacher site began last week.
Soil correction has also been completed at the ice arena site, and Breitbach said foundations began early this week. Pre-cast wall panels are currently scheduled for Feb. 22, depending on how many cold-weather days delay progress.
What is Soil Correction?
Contrary to rumors that have emerged on social media, Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault said soil correction does not mean the soil is contaminated. Rather, Breitbach explained that the soil is known as ‘uncontrolled fill.’
“When the fill was placed, it may have been perfectly fine as it sat,” he said, “but there were no test reports proving it was properly placed when the fill was put in place. They had to re-excavate it, put it back in place with a proper compaction and test it. Most of the material was re-used. We didn’t know if somebody had just dumped it there and never packed it.”
He said there was also some buried topsoil they need to remove because the organics will continue to decay over time and result in settlement, but the majority of the issue was uncontrolled fill with no documentation of how it was placed.
“The soil could have been good,” said Terry Zerwas, STMA’s buildings and grounds coordinator, “but remember when we put the soil there the intention wasn’t to be used as an all-purpose facility. Had it been designed for that, they would have compacted it and we would have had all the documentation and we wouldn’t have had to do that.”
Cold Weather Causes Delays
Breitbach said they build some inclement weather days into every construction schedule so they aren’t concerned by the delays at this point, but he said it would be great to be doing more than the weather currently allows.
“We’re kind of at a stand-still right now just due to weather,” Brietbach said. “We’re ready for steel studs [at Albertville Primary.] RTL Construction, who is the framing and drywall contractor, has a 0-degree cutoff. So if it’s below 0 at start time, they just don’t work. And, obviously, we’re significantly below that at this time.”
“It’s kind of expected with Minnesota construction,” he added.
Fortunately, the cold temperatures did let up for a few days this week, and high school principal/bond projects coordinator, Bob Driver, said crews took advantage of the warmer temps to pour cement for footings at the all-purpose facility and at the ice arena.
Foucault said the district is in year two of their technology plan. Albertville Primary will get a complete classroom refresh next year, and Foucault said there is a committee working with technology director Wayne Hoistad on what that will look like.
Other technology projects include outfitting the high school’s 12 new classrooms with technology and getting fiber core out to the all-purpose facility, new staff workstation computers at Albertville Primary, and access points and switches to Middle School East, the ice arena and all-purpose facility.