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Gilbane Delivers $111M Hospital to Jersey City

Wed September 25, 2002 - Northeast Edition
Sharon Cohen

In the middle of Jersey City, NJ, flanked on three sides by streets and the fourth by a light rail, lies 9 acres (3.4 ha) of cleared space — one of the largest undeveloped areas in the community.

This land was not always free from development. Over the years, it has had its share of manufacturing sites and housing, and it will remain this way for much longer. Soon, it will be the new site for the rebuilt Jersey City Medical Center, part of the Liberty Healthcare System, presently housed approximately 12 blocks away. The $111-million facility is part of the Liberty Healthcare System and is being funded through FHA 242 federally backed bonds. The seven-story, 359-bed facility will house the region’s only children’s hospital as well as emergency, radiology, intensive care, surgical and recovery, maternity and other services. It will be the one hospital in Hudson County that offers open-heart surgery. The project also includes a three-story 40,000-sq.-ft. (3,716 sq m) ambulatory care center and full parking lot.

The building schedule is very tight. Gilbane Building Company of Lawrenceville, NJ, has 25 months to complete the entire project. The work began in October 2001. The team is placing approximately $4.5-million worth of construction in place per month to finish the project on time.

According to William Carter, project executive, the work has offered some surprises. The worst of these, said Vince Romano, senior general supervisor, was getting close to a 16-in. (41 cm) active gas main that was buried 14 in. (36 cm) beneath the site’s surface. Neither the Redevelopment Authority nor the gas company knew this gas main existed and no one was alerted. “After drilling an 80-ft. test pile,” recalled Romano, “we found ourselves only 7 ft. away from the main.” A few feet closer would have caused a major line break needing immediate repair.

Gilbane hired James Construction of Oakland, NJ, for all the site work. When James began work in the fall, the land was completely overgrown with weeds, brush and trees. The company used Cat D8s for clearing and general grading. The firm also used a Cat 235 and D8 backhoes to break up the asphalt streets, sidewalks and curbs on the dead end road that has been deeded over to the property owner. A Cat rubber-tired front end loader has been moving stone on the site. In all, the Oakland contractor carted away four 30-ft. (9.1 m) dumpsters of debris, despite the fact that recycled concrete is being used as fill.

A gas main has not been the only unpleasant surprise. When James began to crush up the street, it came across a water main that broke and filled the area with water.

Part of the undeveloped land also included a bog area, which needed a surcharge operation with wicks to enhance drainage and to reduce future settlement in the roads and parking lot. Gilbane called in Lindi Griffith of Newark, NJ, to drive the wicks into the ground to depths of 30 to 45 ft. (9.1 to 14 m), allowing the water to channel either up and out of the soil or down into the more porous layers underneath.

A Cat 235 backhoe, modified to receive a vibrating mandrill, was used to install the wicks. In all, there has been about 55,000 tons (49,500 t) of surcharge material. Gilbane saved one year of valuable time by putting the wicks at 5-ft. (1.5m) centers versus the originally planned 15-ft. (4.6 m) centers.

To prepare the site for the large steel erection, the site work has included the driving of 680 piles from 70 to 180 ft. (21 to 55 m) deep. Two Manitex cranes did the pile driving, one with a vibrating head and the other with a hammerhead. The original design called for 14-ft. (4.3 m) piles, but it was decided to change this to 12-ft. (3.7 m) piles instead. Although about two weeks of time were lost in the unexpected pile driving, both Carter and Romano said that nothing is going to keep them from meeting the required deadline.

The completed medical center will have a significantly positive impact on the community. Not only will it fill this vacant lot, but it also will provide the area with the medical care required by the residents. Jersey City Medical Center has served the local community for many years. It is the largest charity health-care provider in North Jersey and was the lead hospital in New Jersey during the World Trade Center disaster recovery and relief efforts.

The new facility is designed to relate to its urban surroundings, with its granite, gray and white facade that reflects the character of the city and nearby historic row houses. Floor-to-ceiling sky lobbies facing south will provide patients, employees and visitors a full view of the Statue of Liberty and lower Manhattan skyline.

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