Sciences Building construction hampered by utilities problems

The construction of Saddleback College’s new Sciences Building in Lot 5 ran into issues concerning the utilities and groundwork, according to representatives from the South Orange County Community College District and CW Driver.

The district and the construction team were unaware of utilities underneath Lot 5’s concrete. Once construction began and ground was broken, the utilities were discovered, requiring them to be replaced and re-routed so construction could continue.

The $58 million project was to be finished in late 2015, but due to the problems encountered the project will be delayed by an unspecified amount of time. However, both the district and CW Driver say that occurrences like these are to be expected on any construction job.

“On any project, you’ve got the good, the bad, and the ugly,” said Walter Rice, Director of Facilities Planning for SOCCCD. “Most of the things underneath the ground weren’t supposed to be there.”

The re-routing of utilities is also the cause of the current road closure on Library Road, but Rice stressed that CW Driver was working on “mitigating” the lost time due to the utilities and to reopen Library Road.

“Everything is done around the academic calendar,” Rice said, highlighting that the rerouting of power lines was done during Spring Break to be less intrusive to students. “We’re working overtime to fix these roads. That’s the beauty of our relationship with CW Driver. They’ve been able to come in and work these hours and adapt to the situation.”

Rafael Quazon, Senior Project Manager for Kitchell CEM, noted the construction team is operating carefully and efficiently to keep the project under budget.

“When a project is public, it’s everyone’s money,” Quazon said. “We felt a greater degree of fiscal responsibility than say, a private project.”

Despite this, the $58 million price tag is up from the original cost of the project. The district and CW Driver have chalked this up to Chinese companies buying massive amounts of materials and inflation.

That being said, the construction team is still optimistic about the project.

“We’ve got the A-Team here,” Rice said, “The best of the best. There’s good team synergy, and everything is solved as a group.”