Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Thursday, February 21, 2019

Facing tight deadline, AU wants extended work hours on East Campus

Facing tight deadline, AU wants extended work hours on East Campus

The East Campus construction site early March. The University has so far lost 47 workdays due to inclement weather.

A delayed start and inclement weather has led the University to seek extended work hours at the East Campus construction project.

The current deadline for construction completion is July 2016. If the deadline is not met, the University will need to wait another full semester or another academic year before opening East Campus, Assistant Vice President of Planning and Project Management David Dower said.

“That’s really what’s driving the concerns of me right now and our ability to meet that date,” he said.

The University presented the proposed changes to work hours at the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 3D’s March 4 meeting. Current hours allow AU’s general contractor Skanska to work 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and the proposal would lengthen that to an 10-hour workday beginning at 7 a.m. It would also allow work on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“In order to finish the project timely and make these 590 beds available to students in the fall semester of 2016, we need to increase the hours in which we can work on this project,” Linda Argo, assistant vice president for External Relations and Auxiliary Services, said at the meeting.

The original schedule for East Campus construction was May 2014 to April 2016. However, Argo said construction started late in September due to issues with setting up a water removal system on the site that complied with protocol from the D.C. Department of the Environment. Forty-seven work days have also been lost due to weather.

ANC 3D may pass a resolution in favor of or against the work hours modification next month, but the D.C. Zoning Commission will ultimately decide the proposal. D.C.’s maximum allowed hours for construction on any project are Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs’ website.

East Campus, across Nebraska Avenue from the main campus, will have three residence halls holding 590 beds and two academic buildings, the Eagle previously reported. The 8.1-acre piece of land was previously a parking lot.

East Campus will have three residence halls housing 590 beds and two academic buildings (photo credit AU Community Relations).

A resident of Westover Place, a townhouse complex adjacent to the site, complained at the ANC meeting that noise and dust from the construction site interrupts the lives of her children and family.

“Having them work on a Saturday disrupts our daily life, especially because we are several young families that live along the wall, and we have small kids,” Andrea Garcia, a two-year resident, said. “We are not allowed to enjoy our homes when there’s construction. It’s very loud.”

The University’s last appearance before the Zoning Commission was on Feb. 2 to request approval to modify plans for a one-story parking garage on East Campus and turn it into a two-story garage. Argo said the University found the change necessary because a second level was necessary in order to fit the required 150 parking spaces.

The Zoning Commission ended up allowing the University to continue with the garage.

Westover Place Board of Directors member Larry Joseph said at the March 4 ANC meeting that sentiment among residents leans toward allowing the University to have extended work hours on weekdays but against allowing work on Saturdays.

In addition, ANC 3D Chair Tom Smith struck a cooperative message, saying AU completing the campus on time is in the best interests of the community.

“Otherwise we’re looking at more students in private housing, we’re looking at more triples, we’re looking at maybe [AU] cutting your number of students,” Smith said. “While I understand the issues of Westover, there’s a full community here. We got to find a way to accommodate everybody’s needs.”

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