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Hospital gets solid foundation

MURRAY — It looked like a national cement truck convention, with one vehicle arriving and another leaving almost every minute from 1 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, dropping enough concrete to lay the foundation for the equivalent of some 400 homes.

It's Murray's newest landmark — the foundation for the 15-story Intermountain Health Care hospital patient tower — taking shape where the former Murray smokestacks used to be.

Located at about 5100 S. State and just northwest of Costco and Murray High School, six concrete pumps worked continuously Monday for 13 hours to put 8,000 cubic yards of concrete into place.

According to Okland Construction's Fred Strasser, the project manager, this is currently the largest construction project in the Intermountain area and may be the biggest single concrete pour ever in Utah. Even the LDS Conference Center's concrete was done in stages, while this one was continuous, for structural advantages.

"This one stands alone," he said.

Ninety cement trucks combined to make a total of 900 trips and add concrete to the 760 tons of steel rebar already in place. The work began early in the morning to lessen the traffic impact in the area.

"Two stories will be below grade and 13 above," Strasser said of the patient tower. "There will be seven buildings on the site."

Construction began in February with preliminary site work. Completion is slated for the end of May 2007.

Strasser said most of the environmental concerns on the site of the former smokestacks have now been resolved, though workers are still taking a few extra precautions at the end of each work day with their shoes and clothes. Controlling dust is also a paramount issue.

But he said the leftover slag in the area makes an excellent material to build on. The patient tower is part of IHC's new $362.5 million, 1.2 million-square-foot, five-hospital campus at this central valley location. When completed, it will replace the seismically unstable Cottonwood Hospital and will supersede LDS Hospital as the flagship IHC facility of the 21-hospital chain. (LDS Hospital will become a community hospital for the north end of the valley.)

"When Intermountain Medical Center opens in 2007, it will be one of the most technologically advanced and patient-friendly medical centers in the country," H. Gary Pehrson, IHC regional vice president, said. "This medical campus will be the crown jewel for the citizens of Utah and the Intermountain West. Our goal is not to simply construct more buildings, but to design the campus in a way that significantly improves the way care is delivered to patients."

The new IHC campus will also include a five-story women's and newborn center, a seven-story heart and lung hospital, a six-story ambulatory and outpatient diagnostics hospital, a three-story cancer treatment hospital, as well a laboratory facility and a utility building.

It will be one of the most seismically structured hospitals in the country. It will also include 5 million feet of computer cable on its campus and ample landscaping. Another feature will be a convenient location to the nearby Murray Central TRAX station.

This facility is needed because other IHC hospitals are running at full capacity and have no room for expansion.