ETSU parking garage still not ready, officials say soon

Nathan Baker • Feb 24, 2014 at 11:03 AM

The long-overdue parking garage on the campus of East Tennessee State University will likely miss another deadline, but school officials say it will soon be open for students' vehicles.

ETSU spokesman Joe Smith said Monday morning that the 1,200-space structure will not make the last announced opening date of mid- to late-February, but said contractor Rentenbach is "very close" to completing the parking portion.

"The weather in the past couple of weeks has been problematic," Smith said. "We don't have an exact finish date, but we do know that they're very close."

Paving is finished at the site, Smith said, but crews still need to run fibre optic cable for the security cameras and hardwire the lines for the emergency telephones.

Once the garage is finished, students will be allowed to begin parking in the 425,000-square-foot building, but the parking and public safety offices and the food service area will likely have to wait until after spring break to move in.

Earlier this year, ETSU Vice President for Finance and Administration David Collins said the public safety offices needed a weeklong window when a majority of students were not on campus to move offices, proposing spring break in the second week of March.

Now it looks as if those offices will wait longer, maybe even until this summer until moving into their new digs.

After the offices move in, the food service portion, where a Subway restaurant will be installed, will move in, Smith said.

The $26.1 million project was originally scheduled to be ready for parking in August, before the start of the fall semester.

But the workers almost immediately uncovered an unexpected amount of unsuitable soil that needed replacing, then an unusually rainy summer, materials shortages and a colder than usual winter further delayed construction.

Collins said in January that each day past the original completion date, after allowances for weather delays, contractually cost Rentenbach $2,500 per day, but the Tennessee Board of Regents will likely reach a settlement with the company.

To pay for the construction, ETSU increased student fees in 2011 from $25 to $50 per semester. The project was initially expected to cost $23 million, but Collins said the schools should still be able to cover the increased price tag.

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