The program manager for Lincoln’s West Haymarket arena project says the project is still on budget — disputing recent rumblings that the $340 million project is over budget.
During an open house for subcontractors Wednesday night, Mortenson Construction Vice President and General Manager of the Sports Group, Derek Cunz, said at this point it’s typical for a lot of “wish list things” to creep into a project, but he said the project is tracking on budget so far.
Jim Martin, program manager for the arena project, acknowledged that two street projects the city expected the state to do have been delayed. Those are improvements to the intersections of First Street and Cornhusker Highway and Sun Valley Boulevard and O Street. Improvements to those intersections are important to help traffic flow smoothly in and out of the newly developed area west of the Haymarket.
Martin said the city is looking at funding a “modest engineering study” to see if there are “interim solutions” to improve traffic flow at the intersections until the state can do the projects. His firm is reviewing the cost of the study, which he said would probably be less than $50,000. The Joint Public Agency which oversees arena financing and construction would have to approve the expenditure, too.
But he said the project is still on budget.
Mortenson Construction, the Minnesota-based general contractor who will be building the $168 million arena portion of the project, held an open house Wednesday night at the Cornhusker Marriott for subcontractors looking to get a piece of the arena action. Pickups with logos filled nearby streets and an adjacent parking garage, and probably 300 people filled an overheated ballroom to hear about the project. It was standing room only.
Some nuggets of news:
• Construction is scheduled to begin Sept. 16.
• Mortenson wants to begin accepting resumes (so to speak) next week for mechanical, plumbing, structural steel, structural precast, electrical and other work and award bids in June. That may be a bit too optimistic, however.
• Mortenson will open an office in the Haymarket next month. Anybody want to wager any bets on who they’ll rent from?
• Cunz said the company has never failed to finish a project on time and on budget.
• Cunz said sports projects are notorious for hitting time crunches and having long punch list items — but Mortenson’s goal is to have no punch list items by the first Husker basketball game.
• Senior Superintendent Dave Mansell said the city tried to wedge the arena between two rail lines — since they won’t be able to be moved until September 2012 — but there wasn’t enough room, so construction will go on between two active rail lines.