Construction Projects Advancing Steadily Through the Fall

Scott Shipp Hall exterior during renovation

Construction continues on Scott Shipp Hall as of Oct. 15 from Letcher Ave. VMI Photo by Kelly Nye.

This fall, visitors to post are likely to observe that construction workers seem almost as numerous as cadets, as work continues on several projects simultaneously. And while some of the projects will affect cadets and visitors minimally, others will have a much more direct impact.

One project that will influence access to post is the upcoming closure of Anderson Drive, which is the road to VMI through Jordan’s Point. The goal of the $5.5 million project is to widen Anderson Drive to make its entire length a two-lane road and replace the one-lane bridge spanning Woods Creek with a two-lane bridge. As part of this project, a retaining wall and street lights will be added.

A W.M. Jordan crew member works to replace the windows in Preston Library. VMI Photo by Stephen Hanes.

“It’ll put in two full traffic lanes and add a sidewalk all the way down the hill so pedestrians can safely walk to Gray-Minor Stadium or further down to North Post and the drill fields,” explained Col. Keith Jarvis ’82, director of construction.

Jarvis added that once the Anderson Drive project is complete, the road will curve more gently as motorists exit main post and head toward Jordan’s Point. Turning off the current, one-lane bridge requires a 90-degree turn, but the new bridge will have an easier turn to navigate.

The closure of Anderson Drive will begin at the end of November or beginning of December, once the football season has concluded. During the spring 2020 baseball season, fans will be able to either enter post through Jordan’s Point and park near Gray-Minor Stadium or park in the Marshall Hall parking lot and walk down the hill.

Work on the Anderson Drive project should be completed by mid-August 2020, in time for matriculation.

Ongoing throughout this academic year will be the renovation of Preston Library, which is on track for an October 2020 completion. Currently, much of the building is encased in a protective screening, which both shields the stucco work from the elements and protects pedestrians from falling stucco.

New windows are soon to be installed – and if they look like the ones in Third Barracks or Nichols Engineering Building, it’s no coincidence – the new windows for the library are coming from the same manufacturer.

The Turman House, also known as Stono, was built in 1818 as the home of prominent Lexingtonian John Jordan and is now owned by VMI, is one of the earliest known examples of Roman revival architecture west of the Blue Ridge. VMI Photo by Mary Price.for the library are coming from the same manufacturer.

“The new windows are historically accurate,” Jarvis noted. “They’re newer, double-glazed energy efficient windows. But they’ll look very similar to the historical windows.”

The Scott Shipp Hall project, scheduled for completion in late summer or early fall 2021, is likewise on schedule, despite a problem encountered there this fall.

Jarvis explained that workers attempting to put in footers for a planned addition to the building ran into a seemingly impossible problem familiar to anyone who’s tried to build anything locally: Rock, and lots of it. A hoe ram was unsuccessful at breaking up the rock, and blasting wasn’t an option due to the presence of so many buildings nearby.

A third option, though, saved the day: Expansive demolition grout, also known as expansive mortar. Jarvis explained that when this substance is mixed with water, it expands slowly over time but at an enormous pressure of approximately 18,000 pounds per square inch. Under that pressure, rock will crack and can then be removed.

Yet another project underway is construction of a more modern and secure home for the VMI Post Police. That $5.5 million undertaking is scheduled for completion in May 2020.

Coming up on the horizon are numerous projects, among them a replacement of the South River pedestrian bridge on the Chessie Nature Trail. The original bridge was washed away 16 years ago by Hurricane Isabel, and since then trail users have had to detour onto Stuartsburg Road.

Now, the design work for the new bridge is approximately 80% complete, according to Jarvis, with construction set to begin in spring 2020 and completion expected later that year. A grant from the Eastern Federal Lands Access Program is paying for the design and construction of the bridge.

Also commencing in 2020 will be construction of a new parking lot at Lackey Park, adjacent to Hinty Hall near Rockbridge County High School. The lot will serve as dedicated parking for all cadet vehicles, so VMI will no longer have to pay to rent spaces in the former Kmart parking lot off U.S. 60 east of Lexington. Jarvis said that construction of the new lot will take about a year to finish, with cadets likely traveling to and from Lackey Park via shuttle once the lot is operational.

Next year will also see renovations begin at the Turman House, also known as Stono. The house, which dates back to 1818, was built as the home of prominent Lexingtonian John Jordan, for whom Jordan’s Point is named. Renovations to the Turman House are expected to begin in spring 2020 and take approximately one year to complete.

Once the Turman House has been renovated, renovations to the Superintendent’s Quarters will begin, although no timetable has been set for that work.

  • Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing