Wilkes-Barre Area shows off progress at high school site

Wilkes-Barre Area shows off progress at high school site

By Mark Guydish - [email protected]
Superintendent Brian Costello talks about one of the new classroom areas, which will be divided into several rooms when complete, at Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader Superintendent Brian Costello talks about one of the new classroom areas, which will be divided into several rooms when complete, at Wilkes-Barre Area high school. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
A worker lays brick in the library of the new Wilkes-Barre Area consolidated high school in Plains Township. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader A worker lays brick in the library of the new Wilkes-Barre Area consolidated high school in Plains Township. - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Wilkes-Barre Area School District Brian Costello points out to what will be the gym at the Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Support for much of a second floor track can be seen ringing the walls Aimee Dilger | Times Leader Wilkes-Barre Area School District Brian Costello points out to what will be the gym at the Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Support for much of a second floor track can be seen ringing the walls - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Wilkes-Barre Area School District Superintendent Brian Costello talks to Project Superintendent Jim Callahan about sections of the new high school now being temporarily sealed and heated so work can continue if winter weather gets colder. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader Wilkes-Barre Area School District Superintendent Brian Costello talks to Project Superintendent Jim Callahan about sections of the new high school now being temporarily sealed and heated so work can continue if winter weather gets colder. - - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Members of the school district and media look at work being done in the auditorium at the new Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Small eye hooks jut out from the mortar between cement block. They will help anchor the brick facade that will cover the block. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader Members of the school district and media look at work being done in the auditorium at the new Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Small eye hooks jut out from the mortar between cement block. They will help anchor the brick facade that will cover the block. - - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
A contractor in the distance works on a piece of large plastic to finish sealing up part of the new Wilkes-Barre Area High school. Plastic has already been installed on windows on the left. Temporary sealing allows work to continue when and if winter weather gets colder. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader A contractor in the distance works on a piece of large plastic to finish sealing up part of the new Wilkes-Barre Area High school. Plastic has already been installed on windows on the left. Temporary sealing allows work to continue when and if winter weather gets colder. - - Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

PLAINS TWP. — One part of the rapidly-rising Wilkes-Barre Area School District construction project now requires a person to “open” a large flap of reinforced plastic to enter or exit. It seems like a small thing, but plastic sealing of windows and entrances is a sign that work can continue even if Jack Frost blows a deep chill into the region.

Warm weather has allowed better-than-expected progress on the consolidated high school so far this winter. Walls are at or near full height for the gym and auditorium. Long trusses were being bolted together and hoisted upward, courtesy of a 198-foot crane, to support roofing over the largest rooms. At least three sections were nearly sealed with temporary plastic, and a tank of propane stood ready to fuel portable heaters to continue indoor work.

Two of the four classroom wings had walls at or beyond the top of the first story, with contractors doing prep work in anticipation of pouring the second story flooring.

During a Monday tour with a pair of superintendents — School District Superintendent Brian Costello and Project Superintendent Jim Callahan of Apollo Group Inc. — Costello stressed how much work had been done to assure construction can continue through the winter. Part of one education wing, a training room and wrestling room were all nearly sealed from the weather. Footers had been put in place for every wall save a small corner near the back of the school.

It wasn’t so long ago Costello stood amid an expanse of black dirt with little more than orange flags marking where walls would be, yet proudly smiled that he was standing on “Main Street,” the wide, long hallway that will greet visitors at the front entrance.

On Monday “Main Street” was clearly visible, walls of the auditorium and gym towering on each side, small eye-hooks jutting out from the mortar between the cement blocks, ready to anchor the facade bricks students will see when the building is done.

Callahan helped visitors navigate around thick mud churned up by construction vehicles running between expanses of paved lot and towering walls.

The swimming pool, barely a hole in the ground during a November tour, was lined with cement, the “mat slab” foundation — some 18 inches of reinforced concrete designed to distribute heavy loads — in place.

The stage that was barely an outline in November is now clearly defined by auditorium walls.

Outside the windows of one building, contractors had built two small samples of exterior wall and roofing so the district could pick a final color for the outer facade.

A lot of work remains, of course, including widening of the exit off the Cross Valley Expressway onto River Street near Maffett Street. Work also needs to be done on Ann Street, where sewer lines for the school will connect to main lines. Those jobs will probably go out for bid in the spring,

But the project overall remains within the $121 million budget and on target for the planned construction end date of May 2021, Costello said.

Superintendent Brian Costello talks about one of the new classroom areas, which will be divided into several rooms when complete, at Wilkes-Barre Area high school.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_TTL011420New-School2-2.jpgSuperintendent Brian Costello talks about one of the new classroom areas, which will be divided into several rooms when complete, at Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

A worker lays brick in the library of the new Wilkes-Barre Area consolidated high school in Plains Township.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_TTL011420New-School6-2.jpgA worker lays brick in the library of the new Wilkes-Barre Area consolidated high school in Plains Township. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Wilkes-Barre Area School District Brian Costello points out to what will be the gym at the Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Support for much of a second floor track can be seen ringing the walls
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_TTL011420New-School1-2.jpgWilkes-Barre Area School District Brian Costello points out to what will be the gym at the Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Support for much of a second floor track can be seen ringing the walls Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Wilkes-Barre Area School District Superintendent Brian Costello talks to Project Superintendent Jim Callahan about sections of the new high school now being temporarily sealed and heated so work can continue if winter weather gets colder.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_TTL011420New-School3-2.jpgWilkes-Barre Area School District Superintendent Brian Costello talks to Project Superintendent Jim Callahan about sections of the new high school now being temporarily sealed and heated so work can continue if winter weather gets colder. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

Members of the school district and media look at work being done in the auditorium at the new Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Small eye hooks jut out from the mortar between cement block. They will help anchor the brick facade that will cover the block.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_TTL011420New-School5-2.jpgMembers of the school district and media look at work being done in the auditorium at the new Wilkes-Barre Area high school. Small eye hooks jut out from the mortar between cement block. They will help anchor the brick facade that will cover the block. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader

A contractor in the distance works on a piece of large plastic to finish sealing up part of the new Wilkes-Barre Area High school. Plastic has already been installed on windows on the left. Temporary sealing allows work to continue when and if winter weather gets colder.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_TTL011420New-School4-2.jpgA contractor in the distance works on a piece of large plastic to finish sealing up part of the new Wilkes-Barre Area High school. Plastic has already been installed on windows on the left. Temporary sealing allows work to continue when and if winter weather gets colder. Aimee Dilger | Times Leader
Wilkes-Barre Area shows off progress at high school site

By Mark Guydish

[email protected]

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish