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Coping with the Frozen Earth

This is a public works project in the city of Cuyahoga Falls. Heavy equipment is being used to make concrete forms and to pour foundations. But cement wasn't meant for freezing temperatures. If it's done wrong it can crack or crumble, putting the multi-million dollar projects like this one at risk. Roger Gray of Turner Construction is the project manager. He says it costs extra money, but heaters are used to pump hot air through pipes that are laid along the foundation.

Roger Gray: If you look around the site we have two large propane tanks and basically we run two heaters, two hoses off of each tank. We're both heating the footings and also the wall forms. In the past they would basically just shut the job down.

Shutting the job down because of the cold has far reaching effects. Workers have to stay home without pay and delays can cost the company if it doesn't finish on time.

Roger Gray: It is expensive because the end date never changes. It still going to be a compressed schedule once the weather starts cooperating a little bit. So we never have the luxury of extending our schedules.

The weather has already been a factor in putting the recreation center two weeks behind schedule. But Gray says they'll try and make up for lost time this spring. It will take about a year and a half to finish this the rec center. John Olivier is the assistant superintendent of Parks and Recreation for Cuyahoga Falls. He says the city can't afford delays either.

John Olivier: There's a lot of other things going on, other than literally building the building were in the middle of marketing efforts and programming efforts that are all geared toward a time frame of when the building is supposed to open up, so if the building doesn't open up it effects a lot of other things.

These public works projects are becoming very important for companies that don't build houses. Last year non-residential construction was down nearly 15%. That's part of the lack of capitol spending we've heard so much about because it's slowing the recovery. It's also meant fierce competition for things like hospitals, churches and projects like this one. I'm Mike West, 90.3.