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Connect NC Bond: Most funds allocated, construction costs reduced for UNC projects

The Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Capital has met to receive an update on the Connect NC Bond projects, Carolinas Associated General Contractors (CAGC) reports in its weekly legislative news update.

The Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) reported on the $2 billion in bonds approved by the voters in March, 2016 with Mark Bondo, budget analyst with the OSBM, providing detailed costs and allocations.

Tracking the 2016 Connect NC Bond projects’ progress

Community Colleges: Community Colleges should receive $350 million from the bonds, with over $240 million of that already allocated. Of the funds allocated, 52 percent are for new construction projects and 48 are for repairs and renovations.

UNC system: The University of North Carolina system received $1.07 billion — about 53 percent of the total bond funds. All of the funds have been allocated across the UNC system for 21 projects.

Water and sewer projects: The Department of Environmental Quality received more than $209 million for water and sewer loans and $100 million in water and sewer grants. The DEQ has so far awarded nearly $75 million in grant funding and over $136 million in loans.

Other allocations from the bonds include $8.5 million for the second phase of the Samarcand Training Academy for law enforcement in Moore County and $70 million for the Department of Public Safety to build N.C. National Guard Readiness Centers in Burke, Guilford and Wilkes counties. N.C. State Parks received $75 million for projects at each state park, and the North Carolina Zoo received $25 million. The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services received $94 million for a veterinary, food, drug and motor fuel labs.

Earlier in the meeting, lawmakers received an update on the cost per square foot for the UNC system projects. For all bond projects — including new construction and renovations — the average cost per square foot is $398. New construction projects will average $464 per square foot, and renovations projects will average $213 per square foot.

Will Johnson, associate vice president for finance and capital planning in UNC General Administration, said work has already been done to drop the cost of construction on those projects, including reducing the gross square footage of the projects by 9 percent to “try and get the construction dollars down.

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