University officials explain reason for parking garage delay

Sept. 8, 2014

Nick Beadleston
[email protected]

Students who have accumulated endless hours during past semesters circling university lots now have a new spot to park their cars.

UCCS opened its new 1,234 stall $23 million Alpine Parking Garage and Athletic Fields on Aug. 18.

The garage, designed by Davis Partnership Architects and build by Mortenson Construction, is topped with a $3.1 million recreational soccer field. The garage includes solar panels, energy efficient lighting and the ability to charge the university’s electric vehicles. The garage and field were originally slated to open in early 2014; however university officials attributed the delay in completion of the facility to multiple factors.

“The winter was a little more challenging than we usually have here in Colorado Springs,” said Gary Reynolds, executive director of facilities services.

He said the unpredictable weather combined with some of the building techniques used, such as pour-in-place concrete and the construction of a soil-nail wall, lengthened the project.

Reynolds explained a shortage of skilled steel workers in the region, as a consequence of reduced building since the 2008 recession, contributed to the delay later in the project.

“We can’t always predict what the industry itself will do,” said Susan Szpyrka, vice chancellor for administration and finance.

Additionally, Szpyrka cited the discovery of a buried, decommissioned pipeline, which did not appear on any planning documents, in the construction space as another cause for delay.

“Sometimes you get into the soil and find things you didn’t know were there,” she said.

According to a statement released by university officials, the project was paid for by student fees and parking permit sales, as state policy prohibits using general funds for parking.

Both Szpyrka and Reynolds said the project, despite delays, was completed within the budget. This was accomplished through the creation of two contingency budgets, factored into the total project cost and the original contractor’s bid.

According to Charles Cummings, the university’s project manager, the owners’ contingency budget of approximately $1.8 million dollars was designed to cover any additional construction or improvements the university chose to make after the planning phase.

Cummings indicated the contractor’s contingency budget of approximately $1.2 million was created to cover construction issues and bidding overages. While this amount was available to the contractor, Szpyrka said they needed approval from university officials before pulling from it.

Cummings said the combined remainder of both contingencies was $172,664.

“If any contingency is left, our bond documents require they go against the bond,” Szpyrka said. Despite the official opening, the facility is still undergoing last minute improvements.

“There’s always a lot of little things that need to be fixed at the end, so that’s always a challenge,” Reynolds said.