District stops GW construction

The University will restart construction on the Elliott School of International Affairs site Thursday after the District shut it down for six days for not having a proper construction permit.

The D.C. Consumer and Regulatory Agency posted a Stop Work sign on the site Oct. 19 for working without a permit or permit not posted and told workers to stop.

The University was working under a demolition permit that allowed workers tear down to street level the parking lot that previously stood on the 1957 E St. site and continue other demolition, said Mark Thifault, project manager for the site.

The University was waiting to get a sheeting, shoring and excavation permit to begin the next phase of construction, he said. That second permit allows workers to dig beneath street level.

We were waiting and trying to keep the troops mobilized and working anticipating this sheeting and shoring permit that’s taken longer than we expected, Thifault said.

Thifault said the University applied for the permit July 23 and expected to have it by Oct. 19.

He said workers were not doing anything outside the scope of the demolition permit, but D.C. inspectors disagreed.

It’s a difference in interpretation of what the demolition permit allows for, said Gretchen King, director of Media Affairs.

King said she spoke to many GW officials involved with the construction project, but none of them knew what the inspector cited as a violation. Regardless, King said the details of the violation are not important because construction is back on track.

I’m not aware first-hand why we were shut down, Thifault said.

Thifault said the University stopped construction when a DCRA inspector told workers to stop. GW did not contest the decision because the University was close to getting its next permit, he said.

Rather than getting into a contest . we decided to just stop and wait until we had the permit, Thifault said.

The University will not receive any penalty from the DCRA, Thifault said.

The University received a sheeting, shoring and excavation permit to continue construction Wednesday. Workers will begin Thursday digging a hole for the three-level parking garage that will be underneath the new building on the site, he said.

There is no issue, King said. Everything continues as normal.

After digging the hole for the parking garage, the University will need a permit to begin building on the site, Thifault said. GW applied for a building permit last December and does not foresee any delays in receiving it, he said.

The Elliott School is scheduled for completion fall 2002.

Roger Lyons, director of the Office of the Vice President and Treasurer, and Robert Henry, director of the DCRA could not be reached for comment.

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