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Restoration project goes underground at Ogden High School

By Sarah Dallof | Posted - Jan. 6, 2011 at 9:38 p.m.

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OGDEN -- A massive restoration project is underway at Ogden High School, but this one deals with what's going on underneath the surface.

Besides bringing the historic building up to seismic code, crews are also fixing a problem that's plagued the school since it was built in the 1930s -- on top of natural springs.

Because of those springs, water -- sometimes inches of it -- has filled the sub-basements. It's an ever-changing puzzle, but a team of contractors and engineers are prepared to solve it.

This building is going to be very comfortable, safety wise.

–Gene Madeson

"The more complicated the project, the better I like it," said project executive Gene Madeson with Hughes General Contractors.

Some of the cosmetic renovations include the careful application of gold leaf to the auditorium. When you go down a floor, the projects aren't as pretty, but they illustrate the importance of bringing the school up to seismic code.

"These blocks here have no reinforcement," said Madeson. "I'm going to show you how minimal a force it takes to knock them off. Now that is just me hitting it."

Crews have installed hundreds of micropiles up to 120 feet in the ground. They couple them one after another and build them up story after story, secured with cement, until it looks just like any other wall.

But nothing is ever as simple as planned in a renovation.

"Anytime we've dug a hole around the building we've run into water we've had to pump out, put drains in and get the water away from the building," said Gary Reed, Ogden School District support specialist.

The water was no surprise to crews - an underground utility tunnel, with the help of drains, is used to divert the water away.

But it's compacted the ground, resulting in a gap as much as six inches some places between building and earth.

"We will inject a flowable fill underneath the slab, that gap, so it will bridge the soil and that floor," said Reed.

Madeson says all the hard work will be well worth it in the end.

"This building is going to be very comfortable, safety wise," he said.

The project is divided into three phases. The second phase, taking place now, is expected to be finished by July of this year. The entire project should be done by July 2013.



Sarah Dallof


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