Aerial view of the ETSU parking garage under construction adjacent to the mini-dome. Photo contributed/Doug Thompson
The opening of East Tennessee State University’s 1,200-space parking garage again faces delays after an unusually rainy summer and a materials shortage, a college official said Monday.
David Collins, vice president of finance and administration at ETSU, said the target date for the project’s completion is now the middle or latter part of November, pushed back once already from August to mid-October.
“Right now, that is what they’re telling us,” Collins said of contractor Retenbach Constructors, a Knoxville firm. “Apparently they’ve had trouble getting the steel, so middle to end of November is the current estimate, but that could continue to slip.”
When construction began in July 2012, university leaders hoped to have the parking structure ready by the start of the fall semester in August, but students may now not be able to park in the new $26 million building until the spring.
“In November, there will only be a couple more weeks of school left anyway for students, but we have to have those offices ready for public safety to move in over the holidays,” Collins said. “We can’t afford to have public safety down for a long while students are on campus.”
The project was delayed from the start, when a $3 million price increase sent the contract back to the State Building Commission for approval and put the groundbreaking off by a month.
Then, this summer the rains came, chasing workers off the job site for days at a time during the exceptionally stormy season.
Collins said the contractor racked up such a large bank of allowed weather-delay days that workers still aren’t outside the agreed-upon time frame in the contract.
He did credit the construction company with helping to alleviate the pressure on student drivers by finishing Parking Lot 21 — with 550 spaces — in time for the first day of school.
“It helped us a lot that they got that lot done in time,” he said. “It really came down to the wire, but they put a rush on it and really helped us out.”