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New Missoula College begins to rise

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It's a critical stage in the erection of the new, four-story college being built in the mouth of Hellgate Canyon. (Dennis Bragg photo) It's a critical stage in the erection of the new, four-story college being built in the mouth of Hellgate Canyon. (Dennis Bragg photo)
MISSOULA -

There's still months of work ahead, but the new Missoula College is starting to rise from the ground along the banks of the Clark Fork River. 

But all that progress isn't happening without a lot of careful work at this stage in the $32 million project.

Surrounded by a forest of rebar, workers with Jackson Contractor Group have been busy pouring the tons of concrete that will form the new "river level" of Missoula College. 

It's a critical stage in the erection of the new, four-story college being built in the mouth of Hellgate Canyon.

"Absolutely. You've got to come out of the ground right," said Jackson Construction Group Manager Jake Berger. "It provides the entire structure that you're going to build off of. If you make a mistake at this point you fight it all the way through construction."

Crews on Friday were doing the second of two major pours in the past couple of weeks. That involves a complicated dance to have the trucks arrive right on time, having crews in place to pour the concrete into the tall forms, and then have another crew ready to use a vibrator mechanism to compact the concrete into place. 

One amazing thing about the scale of a project like this is the amount of management and planning that has to take place before a pour, making sure the spaghetti of rebar is in the right place at the right time.

"Well, you know, the pour is really the climax of weeks of preparation. It all starts with the layout, proper placement of the forms," Berger said.

Erecting the walls is a major milestone in the Missoula College construction, which first started last March. But it's not the only complicated phase. Contractors must also install dozens of systems to help with the varied use of the of the 109,000 square foot building. Those features must accommodate everything from labs to kitchens, serving the thousand of students that will go through its doors.

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