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Despite harsh winter, 24-hour shifts keep University of Iowa flood work on track

Hancher project among numerous projects underway on campus

Cranes operate over the University of Iowa Hancher complex on Friday, December, 6, 2013 in Iowa City. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)
Cranes operate over the University of Iowa Hancher complex on Friday, December, 6, 2013 in Iowa City. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette)

Frigid temperatures through the winter months in Iowa typically hinder construction productivity on an average of six days.

But this season, which has been particularly harsh, crews working on the University of Iowa’s numerous construction projects lost productivity on 32 days, said UI director of planning and construction Rod Lehnertz. The threshold for work loss relates to days on which temperatures dip below zero degrees, Lehnertz said.

Remarkably, he said, crews have managed to keep the UI’s flood recovery projects on track — including construction of a new Hancher Auditorium at 141 East Park Road, just north of the original facility that was devastated in the 2008 flood.

Crews have been working extra hours, including 24-hour shifts, to keep the projects on track and to be efficient in their use of construction cranes, Lehnertz said. Mortenson Construction workers can be seen toiling on the project through the night hours in hopes of keeping it on schedule for completion in May 2016.

Other flood-related work still underway on the UI campus includes replacement of the art building, slated for a May 2016 completion, replacement of the school of music building, scheduled for a September 2016 completion, and improvements to the Iowa Memorial Union, which should be done by June 2015, according to regent documents.

Lehnertz said the 24-hour shifts will be coming to an end soon as weather continues to improve and allow for maximum productivity during the daylight hours.

The public can keep tabs on the work through online updates and by watching a webcam that has been set up at the Hancher site. It provides updates every 15 minutes on the project, which will include a 1,800-seat auditorium with two balconies.

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