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AAHS project facing uncertainty

When work will resume on the new Altoona Area High School is still up in the air.

Work came to a halt two weeks ago after Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the closing of all nonessential businesses and put a ban on gatherings of 10 or more people as COVID-19 continued to spread across the state.

At Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting, broadcast live on the district’s YouTube channel, board members were told it’s up to the contractors as to when they will return to work.

Gary Marshall of project manager Reynolds Construction, told the board that he has gotten some mixed signals from contractors about resuming work.

“A couple of contractors have surveyed some of their employees about their willingness to return to work if we can get a safety plan in place, but right now that’s up in the air,” he said.

Marshall said the general contractor, J.C. Orr and Sons, is responsible for overall safety on the site, and that Orr has hired an outside safety consultant to put together a safety plan.

Marshall said he is asking each contractor to develop their own safety plan to go along with Orr’s.

“We are requesting each one of the contractors to have their own plan in place and then we will coordinate those plans accordingly across the project,” he said.

Board member Frank Meloy asked what would happen if one or more contractors decide not to resume work until the pandemic is over.

“We will proceed with whatever work we can do without them on site.” Marshall said.

Marshall said they probably won’t be able to follow the sequence of work originally planned, but there are certain things that can be done until the full crew of contractors resume work.

“It’s not going to make for a smooth flow of work, but anything we can get done is that much less we have to get done down the road,” he said.

Marshall said he hopes to have a better idea of how many contractors are willing to return to work after he meets with them Wednesday.

“I would say we are at least a week or two from getting anybody on site, but that’s just speculation,” he said.

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