The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 13, 2013

The Summit Update: The future is fast becoming reality

— The “future site” of the National Scout Jamboree in Fayette County is rapidly shifting into present-day reality.

Though a lot of the major earth-moving is complete, heavy construction equipment still roves the ridges of the property, putting finishing touches on the site’s massive infrastructure projects.

The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve is the Boy Scouts of America’s new 10,600-acre facility bordering Mount Hope.

“On a typical day, there’s a lot of the finish work going on,” said Gary Hartley, head of Community and Government Relations for the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

“The remainders of bath houses are being constructed. The final grading is being done on the campsites. They are putting final touches on the two remaining dams.”

This initial round of construction involves building campsites, roads, trails, an arena and outdoor activity areas.

Hartley reports that “everything appears to be on target and on schedule” at the site.

The ultimate deadline, of course, is July 15, the opening day of the National Scout Jamboree.

Where there were some setbacks with bad weather, contractors have worked extra hours to make sure they keep up with deadlines.

Good weather means the construction picks up its pace. This past fall when skies were clear, some contractors ran crews in two 10-hour shifts per day, seven days a week.

Some of the earth-moving equipment on site is GPS-enabled, which allows contractors to extend work days into the night.

Bulldozers, for example, have antennae on either end of their blades that sync up with digital plans for the site. Information is sent to the bulldozer so it “knows” where to grade, even in the dark.

This winter, workers have constructed a large tent over the skating bowls of a soon-to-be skate park so they can shoot concrete regardless of the weather.

Total construction time for the Summit project is estimated at five to 10 years. This first round of horizontal construction will prep for the summer’s Jamboree.

Phase 2 of development will involve more vertical construction that will enable the site to be used for year-round Scouting programs.

For the latest on site development and construction, The Register-Herald asked Hartley for an update on some of the Summit’s major features. Here’s what he reports.

-- A total of 336 bathhouses are approaching completion.

The structures, built from hemlock harvested on the property, are installed with a graywater recycling system to conserve water and energy.

-- Two water tanks with a combined capacity of 8 million gallons are built. The Summit will draw from Mount Hope City water and West Virginia American Water. A 2 million-gallon tank will serve the site’s yearly usage. On years with big events, like the Jamboree, a 6 million-gallon tank will be brought online.

-- Two of four earthen dams are now complete. Their gates are shut and they are beginning to hold back water. The largest lake being created by the dams, Goodrich Lake, is 57.55 acres total. The lakes will be used for water sports like kayaking and dragon boats. One will be a stocked fishing lake.

-- Ten AT&T cell towers are under construction. The company is reporting “good progress” on the towers, which are both on- and off-site.

-- A 75,000-square-foot warehouse is online and operational. The building will be used to store equipment like cooking gear and tents for 40,000 Scouts. Hartley says supplying equipment for the Boy Scouts on-site will cut down on traffic during the opening day of the Jamboree. In the past, each troop had to supply its own gear, necessitating an extra truck to carry it.

-- The 80,000-person capacity AT&T Summit Stadium is nearly complete.

The “stadium” is a large outdoor grassy area that’s contoured and designed so that people can sit on the ground and see the stage.

-- The 100-foot-tall, 700-foot-long Consol Energy Bridge superstructure is up and all the cabling has been run. Work on the decking of the pedestrian bridge that crosses a large ravine will begin shortly.

-- A total of 36 miles of mountain bike trails, consisting of 41 separate trails, are complete. A BMX track and skateboard park are also under construction.

-- About 9.5 miles of cabled routes for a canopy tour are complete. In addition to the canopy tour, the Summit will feature a 3,000-foot zip line from the top of a hill across a lake. The first lines have been pulled for the zip line, and the rest of the heavy cables across the span remain. The contractor, Bonsai, uses an old-fashioned brass line throwing gun to do the work.

For more information on the Summit, visit www.summitbechtelreserve.org.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

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