TTU accepts $17.39 million bid for construction of new nursing building

Tennessee Tech University nursing students are another step closer to having a new building to house their program of study, as well as all students having a new Student Health Services office.

The university recently accepted a $17.39 million bid from Hardaway Construction Corp. of Tennessee for the construction of the new facility, and the State Building Commission yesterday gave its go-ahead to begin the project.

“Our next step is to meet with the contractors in a couple of weeks to give them the notice to proceed,” said Glenn Binkley, assistant director of Facilities and Business Services at TTU. “That’s what officially starts the clock on our construction schedule.”

After receiving the notice to proceed, the general contractor, based in Nashville, has approximately 450 days — which includes 115 built-in inclement weather days — to complete the building project, Binkley said.

At that rate, the new building — the first ever built specifically for TTU’s 26-year-old nursing program — will be completed approximately by Thanksgiving 2007, and the first classes could be held in it as early as the spring 2008 semester.

“The next couple of years are going to be an exciting time for TTU, the Cookeville area and the Upper Cumberland region,” said TTU President Bob Bell. “This building project, which will be a major construction project for the Cookeville area, really gives us an opportunity to better serve our state, particularly the Upper Cumberland region.”

Binkley says the university is “right on target” with its anticipated construction schedule. “But it’s a tight target,” he added, “depending on how many weather delays we might encounter to slow us down.

“Nevertheless, we’re going to be seeing signs of construction on campus toward the end of the month,” he continued.

Several local businesses will also be providing services to the TTU construction, Binkley said. CHC Mechanical will provide plumbing and HVAC services, and Lakeland Electric will provide electricians for the project.

The site of the construction will be at the far end of the campus’s Main Quad, on the corner of 7th Street and North Mahler, where the old Smith Quad residence hall complex formerly stood.

That location will serve as an anchor, linking the new nursing building with a major entrance to the area Cookeville planning officials have designated as the city’s medical district.

In addition to allowing TTU to nearly triple its number of nursing students, the new building will provide the necessary technology — such as computerized patient simulators — to educate 21st century nurses.

Other features of the building will include state-of-the-art classrooms, clinical labs and faculty facilities, a 282-seat auditorium, other conference and meeting rooms and an updated Student Health Services facility.

Architects who designed the building estimated its total construction cost to be about $14.7 million, but just six weeks following that estimate, the bid submitted by Hardaway Construction Corp. of Tennessee — the second lowest of five bids — exceeded that estimate by $2.7 million.

The lowest bidder was Medical Construction Group of Nashville, but the company rescinded its bid on Wednesday, Aug. 9, because of errors.

“We knew going in that we might encounter this type of situation,” Binkley said. “It’s a tough time to be bidding construction projects because of the geo-political tensions worldwide that are running up the cost of gas and oil prices. It’s a domino effect that reaches the construction business too.”

The construction project for a new nursing building at TTU has been not only a priority but a necessity for some time because the program has been in transition from one temporary facility to another since 1998.

“President Bell and other university administrators have done an excellent job of being able to keep this project on track,” Binkley said. “To keep the project ongoing, funds were shifted from equipment to construction costs with the anticipation that the equipment funding would be restored prior to its need for expenditure.”

Tom Hamilton, associate vice president for University Development, said, “We were able to guarantee the availability of funding to move ahead with this project thanks to the generosity of a major donor and by moving some funds from the TTU Foundation account.”

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