Courtesy of Ken Graham Photography
Courtesy of Ken Graham Photography

Working in Alaska's harsh winters always provides challenges, but so does working without a firm contract in place. Anchorage-based Neeser Construction Inc. took on that risk with the Goose Creek Correctional Center in Wasilla, Alaska, for three months in an effort to reduce costs on the project and help secure funding.

"We see this as a risk-reward decision that is frequently necessary to keep a good project moving forward," says Gary Donnelly, Neeser projects administrator. "If we did not take the risk, the Goose Creek Correctional Center project may not have come to fruition."

During that three-month window, the owner and contractor underwent value engineering to snatch $7 million from the budget, all the while staying ahead of the project's planning and tight scheduling requirements. Constructing the five-building, $223-million facility also took careful sequencing to ensure that weather didn't delay the project or spike costs.

The medium-security prison consists of a nearly 190,000-sq-ft building to house the general population of 1,300 male inmates and a support and visitation building within a 50-acre secured site. Three additional buildings outside the secured perimeter house the prison administration, its vehicle maintenance and a warehouse. In all, 100 acres of the 300-acre heavily wooded parcel were cleared for construction.

Crews prioritized the buildings and used input from designers, major subcontractors and the owner to create the schedule. To keep pace, the team segregated the design packages and ensured that civil and structural designs were completed for each building in time to get the footings, foundations and building shells done and dried in ahead of the harsh Alaska winter.

This resulted in an earlier dry-in of the four buildings scheduled to open in 2009 and gave the project team a head start on the one building left for 2010. Using electronic technologies, crews also cut down on office-to-office travel and expenses and allowed information sharing in real time, helping to shave time off the aggressive project schedule.

Goose Creek Correctional Center, Wasilla, Alaska

Key Players

General Contractor: Neeser Construction Inc., Anchorage, Alaska

Owner: Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Palmer, Alaska

Design Firm: KPB Architects, Anchorage, Alaska

Submitted by Neeser Construction Inc.

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