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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Trafton Upgrades to be Complete in 2009

by Garret Felder

Issue date: 12/7/06 Section: Campus News

The addition to the Trafton Science Center is expected to be completed October 2008. Completion of the new building is scheduled for January 2009.
Media Credit: Allyssa Hill

The addition to the Trafton Science
Center is expected to be completed
October 2008. Completion of the
new building is scheduled for January

If students haven't heard the sound of diesel engines and the beeping of bulldozers going in reverse, then they probably don't spend much time near Trafton South.

But as these sounds have drowned out all conversations around the science center since Nov. 27, MSU plans for construction of the Trafton addition to kick into high gear over Winter Break.

"The contractor's plan is to continue to work right through the winter," said Larry Kohanek, the Director of Planning and Construction at Minnesota State. "And I think there is going to be a building rising out of the ground there by February."

After the original estimation of $21.4 million by the university, Shaw-Lundquist Contractors made the lowest bid of an estimated $19.5 million for the 67,000-square-foot project Oct. 27. The University hired the company from St. Paul for the project on Trafton South's east side just three days later. Despite construction officially starting Nov. 20 with the erection of fences and arrival of delivery trucks, Kohanek said the contractors didn't "really get serious about" the addition until the Monday after Thanksgiving.

"On Nov. 27, they took down the trees and started excavating and that's where they are at right now," Kohanek said. "They are excavating the footprint of the building, taking away all the excess soil, and putting in utilities."

Although the university has given the project construction the green light, the forward progress of the addition could be a problem for students and faculty of the Trafton Science Center. While biology students and professors go over the building block of life (the cell) in the first week of the new semester, they might also see the building blocks of a building - and the noise that comes with it - outside their classroom windows.

"I would think that the noise would bother the students in the south building," said Drew Scheevel, an Automotive Engineering student who has class in the science center every day of the school week.

Yet, a few students of Trafton South disagree. Physical Therapy student Robby Smith spends four hours a week in the building and said he thinks the addition won't be much of a distraction during class. Human Biology student Megan Tatge said the same except that it will be an inconvenience for her to get to eight hours of class in the building since she lives off-campus east of MSU.

Although Scheevel does not have class in the south building, he said it could be an inconvenience while trekking across campus as well.

"I live in Highland Hills and when I walk to Otto Arena to workout or play basketball it is kind of inconvenient to have to walk around [the construction site]," Scheevel said. "The noise would also get to me while walking through campus. It's kind of unpleasant to listen to the noise walking through every day."

And Scheevel's feelings aren't just those of science, engineering or technology students. Accounting student Erick Robson spends four hours a week in the science center for general education courses and agrees the construction could be a distraction. Besides being an inconvenience for students traveling from the east of campus, he also said it could get "a little loud and distracting for the students" on the southeast end of the building.

Whether the project is an inconvenience or not, Kohanek said the final completion date for the addition is Oct. 2008 and hopes to have all equipment, students and professors in the new building by January 2009. Before the completion, Kohanek said, the university will also focus on bidding for a 65,000-square-foot renovation of the original science center in May or June 2008.

Following this week of excavation, Kohanek said, the concrete footings for the building will be laid out sometime middle of next week. But until the completion date, Kohanek said he hopes everything runs smoothly as he understands it is an inconvenience to the university community.

"We all need to give a bit and try to get through this process of building a building," Kohanek said. "It disrupts people's lives, but we try to make it as least painful as possible."

Garret Felder is a Reporter staff writer