With sub-zero temperatures making it too frigid for kids to go to school or play outside, construction crews at Akron Children’s Hospital aren’t taking any chances in the cold, either.
Construction work generally can continue through even the harshest winter months in Northeast Ohio. But the arctic blasts blowing through the region this week are sending crews for cover.
On the Akron Children’s Hospital campus, supervisors with Welty-Boldt decided to halt exterior work on an ongoing $200 million expansion until Wednesday at the earliest, when the thermometer is expected to begin climbing closer to seasonal norms.
Exterior work has reached the sixth floor of the six-story addition, which will house a new emergency department, outpatient surgery center and 100-bed neonatal intensive-care unit when it’s completed next year.
“When we’re up with multiple levels like this and there’s nothing blocking the wind, we make the call we can’t work,” Welty-Boldt Superintendent Tom Conti said on Monday. “We do have flex in the schedule for days like this.”
Construction companies in Northeast Ohio typically plan for an average of 15 days a year when summer thunderstorms, winter snowstorms or other tricks from Mother Nature thwart outdoor work, according to Conti.
“Wind, rain and cold aren’t our friends,” he said.
Instead of braving the elements, workers moved to the basement and first floor of the project, which are already enclosed and warmed with heaters to a relatively balmy 45 to 50 degrees.
“That’s very comfortable for the guys,” Conti said.
He estimates about 120 of the 200 workers on the site have moved into the shelled areas until the temperatures warm. In the meantime, snow tarps are being used to keep the decks protected from the elements and to allow work to resume more quickly.
The frigid weather also hasn’t put a complete stop to work on other area commercial construction projects, including the new $40 million University Edge student housing/retail complex on East Exchange Street, across from the University of Akron, set to open in August.
Project manager Kevin Fallon, with LRC Realty of Akron, said that workers this week would be doing inside jobs on the privately developed and owned complex.
Fallon said a roof and all the windows have been installed in the 578-student, multi-story housing portion of the complex, as planned.
“The snow can’t get to us ... the wind is pretty much kept out,” he said.
Inside, he said, “You can still hang dry wall. I think there’s interior framing that can be done. An electrician can still pull wire.”
Even before this most recent cold weather spell, the plan had been to turn to inside work during this month and next.
He said utility crews may have even been able to work on installing sewer and water pipes Monday, but he doesn’t expect that to go on today, with temperatures expected to drop even further.
The project, one of several privately developed student housing complexes near UA, is being co-developed by LRC Realty and Hallmark Campus Communities of Columbus. Fallon said that 417 of the 578 beds already have been leased. Retail stores — Penn Station and Chipotle have signed contracts — will occupy the ground floor.