Following an unusually wet winter and spring, many regional construction projects are facing delays amid lost days due to poor weather. These delays come as portions of the region have seen nearly 20 inches of rainfall above average since September.
Despite the storms and abundant rain, officials with several projects, including the new Sherman High School, have found ways to work through the weather with hope of remaining on schedule.
“It definitely puts a constraint on the project but this is a long project to begin with,” said Tyson Bennett, assistant superintendent of finance and operations for Sherman Independent School District. “We fully recognize that there are going to be weather delays and bad weather.”
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service said portions of the region have seen more than 52 inches of rainfall over the past nine months. On average, the area typically will see about 43.6 inches for an entire year, meteorologist Steve Fano said.
Fano traced the recent influx of rain across North Texas to September when Sherman received 10.51 inches of rainfall — nearly triple the average for the month. This was followed by an equally wet October and a December that saw just over seven inches of rainfall.
“In that time of year, with cooler temperatures and shorter days, seven inches says more than five inches in the summer,” he said.
The months of April, May and June also saw significant rainfall. A Sherman weather station recorded approximately 23 inches of rainfall for the three-month period, Fano said.
“Around the area, there were places that saw considerably more,” Fano said regarding April’s rainfall.
In late May, Sherman ISD officials reported that the high school site had seen 46.79 inches of rainfall since Aug. 18. Bennett said this resulted in 66 days where weather-related issues impacted the construction of the school.
Despite the impacts, Bennett said the project is still slated to be completed on time for the start of the 2020 school year next August.
Crews have taken some steps to alleviate some of the issues, including using lime in the soil to mitigate the moisture, he added. Meanwhile, crews have pumped water away from the site and have used specialized based on the construction equipment to more evenly distribute weight over the soft ground.
Other options down the line could include increasing crew size and manpower and adding additional shifts, but these are not anticipated at this time. Crews could event continue work on select areas of the high school after the opening by staggering use in these areas, he said.
“At this particular time we have not had a change in plans put into place,” he said.
The rain delays also affected development in Denison, particularly in the Gateway Village Development along FM 691 and U.S. Highway 75. The construction of the HeyDay Entertainment location in Gateway Village was one of the early projects to see delays from the rains last fall, but construction in recent months has been able to progress, officials said.
“Once the foundation got poured, it wasn’t as much of a problem,” HeyDay CEO Brad Little said via Facebook. Little estimated that the project is about 65 days behind schedule.
The rains have also delayed the construction of the neighboring Urban Air trampoline park, which was announced last fall as the second major anchor, alongside HeyDay, for the development. Currently, the project is about 50 days behind schedule, officials with the development said.
“The rain delays have definitely played a part in delaying progress at Gateway Village,” Covenant Development Director of Marketing Melanie Medina.
While the rains delayed some projects by nearly two months, others were spared due to foresight by developers. Modular Power Solutions, a construction company specialized in pre-fabricated and modular buildings, has been able to limit weather delays on construction projects by internalizing some of the work, company officials said.
“The weather hasn’t helped us, but we were able to mitigate some of it,” General Manager Simon Harkins said.
The company is currently building a new 180,000 square-foot production building alongside its existing site on Marshall Street in Sherman. However, the weather led company officials to change plans for some of the expansion to utilize the company’s modular designs and technology.
Harkins said an office building on the site will primarily be build in house through the company’s production line in lieu of traditional construction. Through this, the company will be able to build the office building in two weeks.
Harkins said MPS was lucky in that it started construction in late spring rather than last fall like many other projects. This shielded work from one of the waves of poor weather and delays. However, the company has seen widespread weather delays across the country over the past year, he said.
Despite the inconvenience that the weather has had, Harkins said it served as a good marketing point for the company. While the modular construction comes with some added costs up front, it is preferable when compared to the 20 percent increase in costs some developers are seeing due to the weather issues.
“It definitely supports the argument for the pre-planned, off-site construction approach,” he said.