Contractors Plentiful At VMI

ABOVE, construction continues on Scott Shipp Hall this fall, one of several projects underway at Virginia Military Institute this year.AT LEFT, among those other projects is the new VMI Post Police building, which is scheduled for completion in May. (VMI photos by Kelly Nye)

ABOVE, construction continues on Scott Shipp Hall this fall, one of several projects underway at Virginia Military Institute this year.AT LEFT, among those other projects is the new VMI Post Police building, which is scheduled for completion in May. (VMI photos by Kelly Nye)

AT LEFT, among those other projects is the new VMI Post Police building, which is scheduled for completion in May. (VMI photos by Kelly Nye)
Multiple Building, Road Projects Underway This Year

Editor’s note: The following story was written by Mary Price for Virginia Military Institute and has appeared in The Institute Report.

This fall, visitors to Virginia Military Institute are likely to observe that construction workers seem almost as numerous as cadets, as work continues on several projects simultaneously. And while some of the projects will affect cadets and visitors minimally, others will have a much more direct impact.

One project that will influence access to post is the upcoming closure of Anderson Drive, which is the road that descends from the Marshall Hall parking lot to the housing that overlooks Gray-Minor Stadium. Anderson Drive is expected to be closed before the end of the year.

The goal of the $5.5 million project is to widen Anderson Drive to make its entire length a two-lane road, and to replace the one-lane bridge spanning Woods Creek with a two-lane bridge. As part of this project, a retaining wall and street lights will be added.

“It’ll put in two full traffic lanes and add a sidewalk all the way down the hill so pedestrians can safely walk to Gray-Minor Stadium or further down to North Post and the drill fields,” explained Col. Keith Jarvis ’82, director of construction.

Jarvis added that once the Anderson Drive project is complete, the road will curve more gently as motorists exit main post and head toward Jordans Point. Turning off the current, one-lane bridge requires a 90-degree turn, but the new bridge will have an easier turn to navigate.

During the spring 2020 baseball season, fans will be able to either enter VMI through Jordans Point and park near Gray-Minor Stadium or park in the Marshall Hall parking lot and walk down the hill. Work on the Anderson Drive project should be completed by mid-August 2020, in time for matriculation.

Ongoing throughout this academic year will be the renovation of Preston Library, which is on track for an October 2020 completion. Currently, much of the building is encased in a protective screening, which both shields the stucco work from the elements and protects pedestrians from falling stucco.

New windows are soon to be installed — and if they look like the ones in Third Barracks or Nichols Engineering Building, it’s no coincidence — the new windows for the library are coming from the same manufacturer.

“The new windows are historically accurate,” Jarvis noted. “They’re newer, double-glazed energy efficient windows. But they’ll look very similar to the historical windows.”

The Scott Shipp Hall project, scheduled for completion in the late summer or early fall of 2021, is likewise on schedule, despite a problem encountered there this fall.

Jarvis explained that workers attempting to put in footers for a planned addition to the building ran into a seemingly impossible problem familiar to anyone who’s tried to build anything locally: rock, and lots of it. A hoe ram was unsuccessful at breaking up the rock, and blasting wasn’t an option due to the presence of so many buildings nearby.

A third option, though, saved the day: expansive demolition grout, also known as expansive mortar. Jarvis explained that when this substance is mixed with water, it expands slowly over time but at an enormous pressure of approximately 18,000 pounds per square inch. Under that pressure, rock will crack and can then be removed.

Yet another project underway is construction of a more modern and secure home for the VMI Post Police. That $5.5 million undertaking is scheduled for completion in May of 2020.

Coming up on the horizon are numerous projects, among them a replacement of the South River pedestrian bridge on the Chessie Nature Trail. The original bridge was washed away 16 years ago by Hurricane Isabel, and since then trail users have had to detour onto Stuartsburg Road.

Now, the design work for the new bridge is approximately 80 percent complete, according to Jarvis, with construction set to begin in the spring of 2020 and completion expected later that year. A grant from the Eastern Federal Lands Access Program is paying for the design and construction of the bridge.

Also commencing in 2020 will be construction of a new parking lot at Lackey Park, adjacent to Hinty Hall near Rockbridge County High School. The lot will serve as dedicated parking for all cadet vehicles, so VMI will no longer have to pay to rent spaces in the former Kmart parking lot off U.S. 60 east of Lexington. Jarvis said that construction of the new lot will take about a year to finish, with cadets likely traveling to and from Lackey Park via shuttle once the lot is operational.

Next year will also see renovations begin at the Turman House, also known as Stono. The house, which dates back to 1818, was built as the home of prominent Lexingtonian John Jordan, for whom Jordans Point is named. Renovations to the Turman House are expected to begin in the spring of 2020 and take approximately one year to complete.

Once the Turman House has been renovated, renovations to the Superintendent’s Quarters will begin, although no timetable has been set for that work.

The News-Gazette

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