Stage set for start of school work

Crews poised to begin PWHS upgrades after building equipment area, access road

Just less than a year after Port Washington-Saukville School District voters approved a $49.4 million referendum, earth is being moved to prepare for the three-year Port Washington High School reconstruction and renovation

Dave’s Excavation and Grading of the Town of Port Washington has stripped the topsoil off vacant land used for athletics immediately north of the high school and is covering it with gravel to create a staging area for construction equipment. 

The work also includes the construction of a gravel road leading from Holden Street to the back, or west side, of the school, where a three-story academic wing will be constructed on the hill leading to the football field. 

Supt. Michael Weber said this week that work on the road will hopefully be completed by Thursday, March 24, so Midwest Drilled Foundations of Waukesha can begin work on a complex, $545,000 retaining wall needed to support the new academic wing. 

The wall is expected to take three weeks to construct. Once completed, it will clear the way for work to begin in earnest on the $45.6 million high school project, which in addition to the new academic wing will include the demolition of the oldest, middle part of the school and the construction of new offices, a commons, cafeteria, music classrooms and gym. In addition, all other parts of the school, including the auditorium, will be renovated.

Midwest Drilled Foundations was the low-bidder for the wall work with a price that was $115,000 less than the work was estimated to cost.

The district did not seek bids for the staging area earthwork but rather is paying Dave’s Excavation on a time-and-materials basis. The Town of Port Washington company did bid on work at Dunwiddie Elementary School and was awarded $404,155 in contracts. 

The elementary school project entails construction of an addition onto the front of the school to provide additional classrooms and the creation of a second parking lot and student drop-off area along Lincoln Avenue just to the west of the current lot. Work is to begin later this spring and be completed by the end of the year.

At the high school, the staging area takes the place of a field used by gym classes and athletics teams, which will now have to use the athletic fields below the hill to the west of the school for the next three years. That will likely cause significant wear-and-tear on the fields, which will undoubtedly require additional maintenance, Weber said. 

The stairs from the school to the fields will remain open throughout the project, he said.

Once the project is completed in 2019, the staging area will be regraded and seeded so it can be used as an athletic field again, Weber said.

In addition, hillside trees and brush to the west of the school will be removed to clear the way for the project. Weber noted that some of the trees are ashes compromised by the emerald ash borer and should be removed regardless of the project. The hillside will be landscaped after work is completed. 

While excavation crews are busy moving soil, the district’s construction manager, C.D. Smith Construction Services of Fond du Lac, and district officials are wading through a complex bidding process. 

Bids for the high school are due April 5. The School Board is expected to approve a majority of the contracts at its April 18 meeting.

“The bids will let us know where we are financially with the project,” Weber said. “It will be tight, and we’ve said that all along, but I think we’ll be just fine.”

School officials said the Dunwiddie project could be over budget by as much as $300,000 but that shortfall can be made up with savings on the high school project or contingency funds built into the project budget.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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