Gym entrance construction delayed at Cherry Hill West

A project to remodel the entrance to Cherry Hill High School West’s gym is running longer than expected because of structural problems.

The school district said construction on the remodeled entrance to Jones Gym should be finished by the second week of February. The project was delayed after workers experienced numerous problems with the original entrance structure.

“These were things they could not see from the original construction,” district public information officer Barbara Wilson said.

The school district released information on the project last week in response to a multitude of questions it was receiving from the community.

The original masonry restoration project was to remove, repair and reset the architectural precast concrete at the Jones Gym entrance. Construction started in mid-to-late August.

According to district architect John Middleton, problems arose after the precast concrete was removed. The concrete masonry construction backing up the precast concrete was in such poor condition that it had to be removed.

In addition to the problems with the masonry construction, the contractor also found defects in two structural steel columns and repairable deficiencies in two other columns.

These issues added extra repair work to the planned remodel project.

“The problems were uncovered as the project began,” Wilson said. “As they got started, they uncovered one problem and then uncovered another problem and another problem.”

A number of steps were required to fix the support issue. To start, temporary supports were installed until permanent construction was completed.

After that, the structure was engineered to act as a replacement for the faulty structure. Replacement steel was ordered and delivered just prior to the district’s winter break in December. After it arrived, the new steel was put into place.

None of the original project was able to continue until the replacement steel was put into place. Wilson said the contractor has recently restarted work on the original project.

Work in recent weeks has been slowed due to the weather. Work had to be canceled a few days due to poor weather, which has pushed the completion of the project back even further.

“It would have been completed sooner if not for the freezing rain, snow and the cold weather,” Wilson said.

Despite having work continue on the site through the winter, sports and other events have not been affected. Patrons entering the gym have been using a side entrance during construction.

“It has not affected games or any events happening at the gym,” Wilson said.

The additional work on the entrance will not increase the cost of the project. Middleton said the revised design was created with minimal cost impacts and the contract amount for the construction will not increase.

School officials said the completion of work by the second week of February is not concrete and can change depending on the weather and other factors.