By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
Permission slips? Check. Head count? Check. Seatbelts? Check.
A filled bus pulls away from the curb to take its passengers on a field trip . . . but it’s not for kids.
Garden Grove Unified School District board members, staff, the Measure A Bond Oversight Committee and others strapped in to see the progress being made at three school sites being retrofitted this summer using modernization funds.
What they saw was a lot of dirt, holes, broken concrete and more dirt. And that’s a good thing.
The modernization project funded by Measure A – approved by voters in 2010 – is starting from deep in the ground up. Literally.
Heritage Elementary at 426 South Andres Place in Santa Ana had deep trenches criss-crossing the campus. In some areas, the trenches were nearly 10 feet deep.
“There is so much underground,” said Stuart Moe, director of facilities and guide for the tour, “every [school] location goes underground to bring the utilities to the buildings. At Heritage, we are doing utilities only, no phased construction.”
Eight elementary schools are in the underground utility phase right now. This requires the excavation, retrofitting and connection of electricity, water and power throughout the school campuses.
Each phase of utility work that is piped into the ground is slurry sealed in with a thick layer of painted concrete to identify what is being held.
For example, electricity conduits are encased in red concrete so that if a future digging project hits it, it will be a notice to stop.
The concrete protects the pipes as well as workers.
“What we are working with, these new materials, are much better, more safe and longer lasting than what was originally put in over 50 years ago. Now, we have more flexible piping that won’t break with earthquakes . . .we’re set for at least 50 years,” said Moe.
Also, there is less threat of breakage that might allow for trees with invasive root systems to get into and destroy water pipes.
At present, $130 million of the bond has been issued for retrofitting in elementary schools. The high school projects are projected to begin in late 2013 or 2014.
All schools under construction right now are slated to have work “finished” by Aug. 13.
This means that the inspectors will come through and check off the progress, make sure everything works properly and space is properly cleared in order for teaching staff to come back and prepare for the school year.
If the inspectors find anything amiss, the contractors, provided through multiple companies, have until Aug. 20 to finish.