UA Board Approves $5 Million To Extend Work On Engineering Building

Jun 10, 2014

The cost of a new engineering building on the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus continues to rise as officials struggle to find ways to pay for its construction.  The Board of Regents agreed last week to add five million dollars to the project. 

The Board of Regents agreed to increase the spending limit for a new engineering building at UAF from $75 to more than $80 million. UAF Vice Chancellor Pat Pitney told the Board the added money will keep the project going through next April. 

“In April, we would have to decommission the project and slow it down.  Decommissioning and demobilizing alone would be over three million dollars. So, we would lose three million dollars," Pitney said.

Pitney says the possible loss is due construction cost inflation and delaying the building project further.  

Credit UAF Engineering Building Project Facebook Page

Last fall the Board of Regents approved the sale of $10 million in revenue bonds to help fund construction, but UAF held off on the sale while they waited to find out how much money the legislature would appropriate for the project.

Legislators only funded 15 percent of a $33 million request. UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers says selling the bonds now will extend the project even further - until next July.

“If we were to extend it, then it would provide us with some useable space.  So it would not be an unusable building at that point.  We would be able to use at least one of the floors," Rogers said.

Some board members voiced concerns that even with the added bond money, the building still won’t be complete.  But Rogers says UAF is trying to be strategic with a limited amount of money.

“If we shut down the project in April, then the legislature if they choose not to fund it, they’re not shutting the project down, we’ve already shut the project down.  If we keep the project going until July, then a decision by the legislature not to fund us, is a decision to shut down the project and we think that might tilt the balance somewhat," he said. 

The project still requires more than $28 million. It’s unclear whether state money will be available for the engineering building in 2016.  That will have to wait until the legislators convene for another session next year.