The new Whittemore Park Middle School on El Bethel Road in Conway is expected to be ready by summer 2024, despite expected delays and possible cost increases.
“Construction costs have gone up 30-40% over the last 18 months,” said Chris Cook of ADC Engineers. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a fire station or a high school.”
Using Black Water Middle School as its design concept, the new WPMS building will total approximately 146,000 square feet on 39 acres.
The building is approved to accommodate up to 1,200 students.
Cook said the South Carolina Department of Transportation recently finalized plans to install a traffic light at the entrance, which will span both sides of El Bethel Road, including a new median intersection. .
Cook spoke with the district facilities committee on Monday afternoon, going over the expected construction delays.
The roof is on a six month to one year lead time, and the heating and air conditioning units are on a 16 to 18 week lead time. Windows are out of stock by five to seven months, and in the steel industry some bar joists are not available for a year.
“It affects everything,” Cook said.
The entrance to WPMS includes a roundabout, which will also have dedicated lanes separate from the circle that will keep it open to traffic during pick-up and drop-off times. Buses remain on a separate circulation loop.
“Buses will not mix with parent traffic for unloading and loading,” Cook said.
Signage and educational information will be given to parents and staff so that they can make good use of the roundabout.
“This is the first on-campus roundabout we’ve ever built,” HCS Director of Planning Joe Burch said.
HG Reynolds is currently working on updating the project costs for the council and will provide them in the near future.
Advance planning for new elementary schools
HCS Support Services Manager Daryl Brown told the district facilities committee that “some members” have expressed a desire to have construction projects ready to start as soon as funding becomes available.