Construction begins on Paducah campus

Construction of the new roughly $10 million dollar Paducah Regional Campus is scheduled to begin this week, six months after first breaking ground.

The new facility, scheduled to be completed by Dec. 2013, was made possible through the collaboration of the city of Paducah, Murray State and McCracken County this summer.

Kim Oatman, chief facilities officer, said the building’s completion is on schedule and that students will be able to begin classes there starting in the 2014 spring term.

Paducah-based Central Paving Co. was in charge of the first step of this project, the site work, which they began on Aug. 7 under a $600,000 contract.

This pre-construction work consisted of creating an entrance road, grading out the site where the building and its parking lots will be and the installation of utilities.  All this was conducted at the Barkley Woods property near Interstate 24, the location that will be home to the regional campus.

Recently Central Paving Co. completed this work.

“’Phase two’ workers will take it from there,” Oatman said.  “They will now go onto the recently graded building site and begin digging and pouring concrete foundations for the building structure to be constructed on.”

Murray State opened a public bid on Oct. 23 to decide who would be in charge of this next phase: the actual construction.

The bid was awarded to local Paducah construction and design company A & K Construction for $8,066,200.

A & K Construction is the same group who designed and built Murray State’s Chemistry building and clock tower.

Currently the Crisp Regional Higher Education Center is utilized as Murray State’s Paducah Regional Campus serving primarily non-traditional students.  Upon the completion and the opening of the new building, the Crisp Center will no longer be used.

Once finished, students will be able to obtain the same three and four-year degrees as were offered at the Crisp Center with the same selection of majors and minors with some additions possible in the future.

Brian Van Horn, dean of Continuing Education and Academic Outreach, said the goal of the new campus is to provide a broad range of offerings to help students become more competitive.

“The building will start out with similar course offerings to what we currently offer in Paducah,” he said.  “Murray State will continue to look at new degree options for all of its regional campuses as well as the new Paducah Regional Campus.  We will strive to get a course enrollment of 2,000 in the future; however, that growth will be strategic and planned.”

Van Horn said one of the major issues with using the Crisp Center and one of the reasons for its replacement was its size.

“Currently, and in the past, we have had to move classes outside of our Paducah Regional Campus due to a lack of educational space,” Van Horn said. “A new facility will allow for future growth and meet the educational needs of our students.”

Oatman said the new building benefits Paducah economically as well as educationally.

“This project has already been a benefit for many in Paducah in the architectural and engineering field since most of the design has been done by Paducah firms,” Oatman said.  “Phase two of construction will help employ many from the Paducah and surrounding areas in the construction industry.”

He said depending upon the weather, most of the concrete for the foundation of the facility could be laid by the time students return to Murray after winter break.

“If we happen to have good weather much of the concrete foundation work will be completed,” Oatman said.  “If weather turns bad, you might not see a whole lot of change between now and then.”

Story by Ben Manhanke, Staff writer.