New construction at Texas A&M University-Texarkana passed a milestone Tuesday, celebrated with a campus get-together.
The university held a "topping out" ceremony to mark laying the topmost, final beam of a new, $32 million building for academic and student services.
University President Emily Cutrer welcomed the project's planners and construction workers, along with local and state elected officials and members of the university community, for a barbecue lunch. Organizers moved the event indoors because of inclement weather.
Attendees could add their signatures to the ceremonial steel beam, painted white for the occasion. When weather allows, workers will lift it by crane and install it in the building's structure.
The building is a 58,000-square-foot academic and student services center that will house the school's recently expanded nursing program, business programs, classrooms, laboratories and support services for students. Construction is expected to be finished in late fall, and students to begin using the building in spring 2019.
Total cost is an estimated $32 million, paid for with tuition revenue bonds approved by the state legislature in 2015.
"Through the investment of the 84th Texas Legislature in A&M-Texarkana, our campus is growing and our ability to serve our students is enhanced. In addition to housing student services and state-of-the-art educational spaces for business and nursing programs, our building for academic and student services will stand as the gateway to our campus," Cutrer said.
Joe Bouthillette, project superintendent for contractor Hoar Construction, said he is pleased with progress on the building so far.
"Construction is on schedule, and the attention to safety and quality on the project has made this topping out a great milestone for our trade partners, design partners and the university. The construction team is excited to enter the next phase on the exterior and start the high-end interiors," he said.
Texas House Rep. Gary VanDeaver and State Sen. Bryan Hughes joined in congratulating the initiative.
"It's a great opportunity for the students here," VanDeaver said.
Also in attendance was Texarkana, Texas, Mayor Bob Bruggeman.