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North Catholic High School construction on pace

| Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Construction of Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School along Route 228 in Cranberry Township recently crossed the halfway point.

The $71 million project on 71 acres of land is on pace to be complete by the intended goal of January 2014.

“We're 12 months into the project construction wise, and we're probably 60 to 65 percent complete,” said Mike Arnold, chief facilities officer of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The project is on pace despite two obstacles.

“There is a particular soil called Pittsburgh red bed clay that is difficult to work with, so we worked our way around that,” Arnold said. “It's a very expansive site, so some of the site work took a while.”

A long winter also slowed down construction.

“We had a rough winter and were 30 days behind at one point,” said Jesse Campayno, the project's construction manager and owner of Campayno Consulting.

Campayno said that they have since caught up.

“We redid our schedule and picked up that lost time, and that's because we have an excellent group of contractors where everyone understands our expectations and we understand their expectations,” Campayno said.

Weather should not impede the school's construction anymore.

“The building will probably be enclosed by the end of the summer, so it won't be an issue and the ball will be in our court to finish on time,” Campayno said.

Construction currently is being done on both the interior and exterior of the building.

“Nothing is done yet, but it's all in construction and we're working on things like the drywall, ductwork, the electrical work and the roof,” Arnold said.

The school is designed to be a LEED certified silver building, meaning that it will meet the US Green Building Council's third highest rating of building sustainability.

“Some buildings use sustainable solutions like a lot of daylight for energy efficiency, and we're going to achieve that,” Arnold said.

The building's design is also geared toward the school's new curriculum.

“You rarely ever see a school being built up with the curriculum being designed first and then the building being designed around the studies,” said Don Teti, the assistant superintendent at the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The building's design was undertaken nearly three years ago by Astorino, an architectural company that has worked with the Catholic Church on numerous projects.

“It meant the world to me to get this, because I care so much about the Diocese and our children in the area,” said Louis D. Astorino, founder of Astorino in 1972.

While the building's design is effectively complete, onsite roads still have to be addressed.

“We still have to do the onsite road improvements, which include new traffic symbols at some of the intersections that are in and around the school at 228 and Franklin Road intersection,” Arnold said.

The finished school will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 students, significantly more than the just over 200 enrolled at the current North Catholic High School, located 20 miles south in Troy Hill.

“There was research done seven years ago by a group hired to gauge whether a move to the north would be positive,” Teti said. “The buildup of non-served or unserved Catholic students in the secondary schools in the north was the reason why the school is being put up there.”

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer with Trib Total Media.

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