After a six-week lull due to Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic shutdown orders, construction work on the new federal courthouse in Harrisburg is scheduled for May 11.
Michael Mascaro, a spokesman for Pittsburgh-based general contractor Mascaro Construction Co., said crews will spend next week prepping the site at Sixth and Reily streets in Harrisburg’s Midtown for the reopening, including taking steps to make sure it complies with a battery of new disease-prevention protocols.
That includes more than you might think for a construction site and, Mascaro said, it will even involve some retraining of workers.
“This first week will be spent obtaining personal protective equipment, sanitizing materials and equipment, cleaning and sanitizing the site trailer areas and access/egress points, setting COVID 19 signage, setting up additional hand sanitizing stations, separating the portable toilets for distancing, etc.,” Mascaro wrote in an email.
“Although the project construction activities will be restarted on May 11, the restart will be a slow and deliberate process with everyone’s primary focus on relearning their duties and dealing with the new COVID 19 safety standards.”
Every person present at the site, for example, must wear masks or some sort of face covering unless they are unable to for medical or safety reasons.
These steps aren’t just about meeting new state regulations. They will also be essential in making sure they have a willing pool of talent ready to come back to work.
MORE: Find out more about the restart of construction projects across Pennsylvania.MORE: Read about city-based businesses’ efforts to land a piece of the courthouse pie.
To a certain extent, Mascaro said, fingers are being crossed on that front.
“This is something we have never been faced with before… We will know more by the end of next week as all of the subcontracting firms call their previous employees back to work,” Mascaro said. “We are hopeful that we get the same employees back so that reorientation of the project requirements and scopes of work is minimized.”
As for the overall impact the shutdown will have on the project’s completion date and final cost, Mascaro said that’s unknowable at this point, in part because it remains to be seen whether the disease prevention steps will effect the overall efficiency of the worksite.
Work on the $192.7 million project – the eventual home base for federal courts throughout most of south central Pennsylvania – kicked off in late 2018 and the building is scheduled for opening by early 2022. Tenants will include the U.S. District Courts for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Marshal Service, U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Bankruptcy Trustees.
Entering December, the federal General Services Administration rated the project as being about 25 percent complete, with most of the work centering around the erection of its steel frame. That was completed in early February, the GSA says, with floor decking, fireproofing, masonry walls, and rough-in mechanical, electrical and plumbing activities in progress when the work stopped.
Construction activity is expected to hit its peak this summer, when exterior work will begin and GSA spokesman Will Powell said the daily average employment at the site could hit about 150 workers.