DELTA JUNCTION (AP) -- Winter's late arrival has been a blessing for contractors working on the missile-defense project at Fort Greely.
The warm weather put the work ahead of schedule.
General construction contractor Fluor Inc. has just a 27-month construction schedule at the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense test bed site. The weather has allowed workers to excavate extra material from the gravel pit and that less heat is needed to cure new concrete slabs.
Lt. Col. Jay Smith said the project is looking good not only in Delta Junction but also on Shemya Island where radar is being upgraded.
''Right now it makes us very optimistic we will finish on schedule or slightly ahead,'' said Smith, chief of staff for the GMD Site Activation Command at Fort Richardson.
Smith said the extended work season has allowed some projects that were started last summer and were expected to be completed next spring or summer, to be completed or nearing completion. He said no new exterior projects will be started this winter.
''It's all phase driven,'' he said.
For example, underground utilidors that carry electrical and other utilities to the buildings were completed this fall. Jay Quakenbush, business representative for IBEW Local 1547, said some of that electrical work was finished in late November, well ahead of the June deadline.
John Killoran, spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers in Alaska, said the unusual weather has clearly given the construction schedule a boost.
''A tremendous amount has forged ahead because we got a couple of months of respite,'' Killoran said. ''We're in pretty fair shape right now.''
The project isn't due to be finished until September 2004, which allows for the vagaries of Alaska weather. ''It will all even out, probably,'' he said.
But even as the mercury dips and the snow starts to swirl, contractors are grateful for the effect the weather has caused. Quakenbush said about 14 IBEW members remain on the site, about as many as he anticipated for this time of year.
The number is likely to increase as early as January, then swell to about 40 electricians by midsummer.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.