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From a distance, it looks like any neighborhood kid's sandbox: bright yellow Tonka trucks lumber along, transporting mounds of earth as towering cranes move slowly up and down.

Get in closer and the image turns from a child's diversion to the economic reality of hundreds of skilled laborers and managers working at a near nonstop, fevered pitch in constructing the first phase of Micron Technology's $1.5 billion facility.After breaking ground June 23, the computer chip manufacturer's new 2-million-square-foot Utah home has begun to take preliminary shape about 17 miles north of Provo.

Five general contractors are working two daily 10-hour shifts six days a week, while an excavation company continuously moves thousands of tons of dirt each day.

Big D Construction Corp., of Riverdale, has been contracted to build the main 500,000-square-foot fabrication building.

"This is the most exciting project I've been involved in for the 20 years I've been in this business," said Rob Moore, senior vice president for Big D. "We have about 200 workers doing field labor, doing everything from footings, steel work, concrete to laying pipe. We're using 7,000 tons of rebar just for our building."

Moore said each of the generalcontractors - which include Big D; Salt Lake's Layton Construction Co. and Okland Construction Co.; West Valley's Jacobsen Construction Co. Inc. and Ames Construction Inc.; and a joint venture called PCL Construction - has its own piece of the puzzle to complete with the project.

"There's a lot of teamwork out here," Moore said, noting most of the companies are direct competitors when working on separate jobs.

David Layton, vice president for Layton Construction, explained his company's duties.

"We're doing the central utilities plant, which produces chilled water and steam," Layton said.

In addition to the half-million-square-foot utility plant, Layton will construct the wastewater treatment plant and the utility distribution tunnel, known as "the spine."

"The spine is about a half-a-mile-long corridor, which will distribute ultrapurified water to make the (silicon wafer) chips," he said.

The spine will then route back contaminant-laden water to the treatment plant for recycling. At Micron's Boise plant, officials say they reuse about 40 percent of total water consumption.

Lehi's spine will be 45 feet deep and 60 feet wide.

"Thus far, 15,000 yards of concrete have been poured, which is equivalent to a 5-foot-wide sidewalk stretching from Salt Lake City to Provo."

Layton said of the 200 employees on site from his company, most live along the Wasatch Front. "We're making a lot of efforts to hire locally, and eventually we'll have about 600 just on our project, which includes subcontractors."

Officials from Ames Construction Inc. said the mass excavation of earth and materials is continuing on schedule.

Like Layton and Big D, the largest portion of workers from Ames are from Utah, with about 110 workers at the Lehi site. The company is completing all of the rough grading for each structure, the back fill, some underground utility work and concrete work.

Micron Spokesperson Julie Nash said the $1.5 billion project is being managed by Micron Construction, one of five subsidiaries of Micron Technology Inc.

"We were able to put together a good team of experts in clean-room design and construction," Nash said about the managing contractors. "There are about 15 to 20 project managers from Micron Construction on site in Lehi. It is our goal that Phase One of the project will be complete between 12 and 18 months."