GCIT expansion bids under budget

Saturday, February 07, 2009
By Pete McCarthy

Bids for the planned $16 million expansion of the Gloucester County Institute of Technology in Deptford have come in under budget. Although the bids still have to be approved, officials said this week they expect the project to cost close to $13 million.
"Because of the competitive climate out there, a lot of the contractors are hungry," said county Administrator Chad Bruner.

In all, the county received 13 bids for this project, more than what was recently received for the $98 million courthouse expansion, said Bruner. "That tells you that with this economy, a lot of contractors are being competitive," said Bruner. "They need work. They want work."

The county was anticipating the bids would come in under budget, but Bruner admitted he did not think it would be this low. "We're very happy with the projected numbers and look forward to a good, clean project," said Bruner.

Late last year, the county announced a scaled-back plan to build a new Academy High School on the grounds of GCIT. The initial proposal called for a new building. Instead, it was decided the technology school would undergo a massive renovation. The Academy High School students will still get space, but it will continue to be in the same building. Garrison Architects of Mt. Laurel are completed the design.

There will also be more vocational classes offered because of this expansion.
This proposal will allow the district to expand its total enrollment by about 500 seats.
"This is a huge step in that this is now the birth of a formal school within a school," said Fred Keating, director of education and disability services for the county. "I think we did it both efficiently and effectively."

The county will look to recoup nearly half of the cost associated with this project through state aid.

GCIT's board of education is scheduled to hold a meeting Feb. 18. At that time, a contract is expected to be awarded, according to Keating. Construction could begin in March, with the work expected to completed in time for the 2010 school year.

Officials are still hoping to get funding from the federal stimulus plan to help offset some of the costs associated with this project. Since the project is ready to begin, it has a decent chance of getting partially funded should this stimulus package pass, said Bruner.


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