State releases $23 million for SIUE science building

News-DemocratAugust 27, 2013 

— After more than a decade of political wrangling and construction, the last phase of the university's science building project has a green light.

Gov. Pat Quinn was at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Tuesday to announce that $23 million for the renovation of the older science building has been appropriated and released.

Approximately $75 million for the science building project was included in the state's infrastructure bill four years ago. The $52 million new building was recently completed, adding 107,000 square feet of classrooms and laboratories in an energy-efficient new structure.

But the original 1966 science building also needed a complete renovation. The project will renovate and reconfigure 80,000 square feet for offices, classrooms and laboratories, upgrade the climate control, plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems and replace the large glass windows with energy-efficient designs.

"It's important to do highways and bridges -- horizontal construction -- but it's also important to do the vertical, these buildings," Quinn said.

SIUE Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe said the completion of the project will end years of "stopgap measures" the university has had to do to keep its growing science program going.

Quinn announced release of the money behind the old science building Tuesday afternoon. While the entire project had been included in the infrastructure bill passed by the legislature four years ago, appropriation of the money for the second phase waited until the new building was completed.

SIU President Glenn Poshard said the project was originally $81 million, but was trimmed down during the course of proposals and appropriations. It took years of lobbying to get the project on the state's list for infrastructure needs, and had been Poshard's top priority for several years before it was finally approved.

"It's been a long time coming," Poshard said.

Quinn said the project will bring jobs through construction and bolster higher education in the area. "These buildings aren't built by magic; they take hard work and planning," Quinn said.

The project will go out to bid by the end of the year and is anticipated to take 18 months for construction.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 239-2507.

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