Renovation costs at DelDOT headquarters top $4 million

DOVER — A cost to taxpayers of more than $4 million in renovations and seven months of upcoming rental-associated fees will bring the Delaware Department of Transportation’s Administration Building up to federal standards for access for people with disabilities.

The ongoing project requires $3,176,670.23 from the Capital Transportation Fund to pay three contractors, plus $373,450 in rent for 240 displaced staffers temporarily working at the nearby Blue Hen Corporate Center.

The rent comes from DelDOT’s operating budget.

Also, the state government will cover undetermined Blue Hen costs including electricity, gas, water and sewer, telephone, janitorial services, repair and maintenance of plumbing, electrical and lighting systems, repair and maintenance of HVAC systems, and fire extinguishers. Start up and shut down fees total $10,000.

A consultant evaluated the building off Bay Road in southeast Dover and identified non-compliant features now being addressed.

Derrick Hamilton with Blue Fin Services pulls up old carpet from a office at the DelDOT administration building at 800 Bay Road in Dover. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“I think the Department of Transportation has done a good job with a subtle push from the feds,” said John McNeal, who was the agency’s Americans With Disabilities Act coordinator before recently becoming the overall state overseer.

“We’re now seeing a change and attitude that is not just looking to meet requirements but work with other entities to provide even greater access.”

Mr. McNeal, a wheelchair user since a construction injury in 1990, believes the project answers the needs of an overlooked populace, the disabled.

“It wasn’t until I had my I injury that I realized how important these issues were and the challenges that some face daily,” he said.

“There are a number of people working for the state who have disabilities but might be afraid to speak up and ask for reasonable accommodations.

DelDOT has started renovating the work space at the administration building at 800 Bay Road in Dover.

“This project puts it out there front and center that the state acknowledges the value of all staff and those who may visit state venues.”

The lease agreement commenced Jan. 1, and will terminate on July 31. The 55,000-square-foot area is leased at $11.64 per square foot.

Conventional Builders Inc. of Houston will receive $1,844,000 for its part in the project, Brennan Office Interiors of Wilmington is contracted for $1,628,460.69, and Corporate Interiors Inc. in New Castle will get $244,209.54.

Most significant issues

According to DelDOT, the most significant issues being addressed include accessibility in eight restrooms, the lobby/reception area, some offices, parking spaces/walkways, water fountains and signage.

Full reconstruction of the lobby/reception area is designed to be ADA compliant. Reconstruction of new walls is necessitated by doorways widened in several offices.

Van accessible parking will be modified and designed to make walkways from the parking lot to building entrance accessible, DelDOT said. Also, ADA compliant signage will be posted throughout the building and water fountains modified.

Carpets well past their preferred lifespan of 10 years shelf life will be replaced; DelDOT noted that East Wing carpets were nearing 25 years of use and could no longer be properly cleaned and maintained.

Also, cubicle reconfiguration will  provide space for additional meeting rooms and more privacy for human resourses staff.

Aging cubicles reaching the point that replacement parts were no longer available were replaced to aid the reconfiguration providing “a more efficient use of space and provide an opportunity for more meeting rooms and collaboration …”

IT upgrades are being made throughout the building.

DelDOT’s human resources staff will move from cubicles to spaces with floor to ceiling walls, making confidential communications with employees, providers and others more private.

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