BANGOR, Maine — Expected to employ up to 300 and cost an estimated $53 million in federal stimulus money, the project to renovate the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building on Harlow Street is under way.
The cost of construction is estimated at $33.88 million with the remaining money going toward design services, according to the General Services Administration.
Workers with Dragin Drilling Inc. of Meredith, N.H., on Thursday staffed equipment behind the building. The company is drilling 16 wells that will be part of the new geothermal heating and cooling system for the building, according to Patrick Keating of Consigli Construction Co. Inc.
The Milford, Mass., construction firm is the general contractor for the project. Consigli also oversaw construction of the $36.4 million Penobscot Judicial Center.
“Each well will be 1,500 feet deep, and it will take about two weeks to drill each one,” Keating said Thursday. “When they are completed, the parking lot will be restored, and you won’t even know they are here.”
The drilling has caused a few workers in the federal building to have to park during construction in the city parking lot across the street from the Bangor Public Library or on side streets.
Construction for the entire project is expected to be completed in three years and three months, according to Paula M. Santangelo, public affairs officer for the GSA’s regional office in Boston.
“The building will be fully occupied by federal tenants at the completion of the project in 2013,” she said Thursday in an e-mail. Plans call for much of the Social Security Administration office, now on the second floor, to be relocated permanently to the first floor, where the Bangor post office was located. The post office was moved over the Memorial Day weekend to a temporary location in the Broadway Shopping Center. The U.S. Postal Service is expected to move Oct. 31 to its new permanent home in the former Bangor District Courthouse.
The majority of the upgrades to the federal building will not be visible from the sidewalk, according to information about the project released by the GSA in June. Public entrances will be reduced from two to one, so everyone who enters the building, except employees, will pass through a security station that has a metal detector and X-ray machine. Details about how that entrance will be reconfigured will be available by the end of the year, according to Santangelo.
Upgrades to improve energy efficiency will reduce water consumption by 40 percent and energy use by 30 percent, the GSA said in June. In addition to the geothermal heating and cooling system, advanced heating, cooling and lighting controls will be installed.
The building will be made compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act through renovations to public restrooms and the front plaza slope and the proper placement of elevator controls and door hardware, according to previous reports. Mechanical and electrical work throughout the building is expected to begin soon.
The building space made available by the relocation of the post office will allow other offices to move temporarily to the first floor during renovations.
Any unused money allocated to the project would not remain in Maine but would be returned to the GSA’s Central Offices in Washington for redistribution to other projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to previously published reports.
The planned renovations to the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building include:
• New mechanical, electrical, lighting and plumbing systems, including high-performance green building components.
• New life safety systems, including sprinklers and fire alarm systems.
• New and renovated elevators.
• New energy-efficient windows.
• New telecommunications systems.
• Tenant space improvements and renovations to vacant spaces for occupancy.
• A new entry pavilion and security screening area.
• Building security upgrades.
• Site and plaza improvements.
• Accessibility upgrades.
Source: General Services Administration