The first stage in Conway Regional Health System’s $40 million expansion project is nearing completion.

Nabholz Construction began work on Conway Regional Medical Center’s new parking lot this spring, located on the north side of the hospital at the corners of Robinson, Western, Augusta and Louvenia avenues.

This first step will help with the next – construction of the new medical office building.

Nabholz Project Superintendent Patrick Rappold told the Log Cabin Democrat on Tuesday that the lot will hold more than 270 parking spots, helping to replace those spots that will be lost when crews move across the street to start on the medical offices.

“This project here has to be completed [before] the beginning of the next project for the offset of the parking that’ll be lost for the new building,” he said.

CEO Matt Troup previously told the LCD the parking phase was set to be finished by June but July has come and almost gone. The LCD asked Rappold what challenges they have faced.

For one, he said, weather.

“We had an extremely wet spring that caused us a lot of headaches,” Rappold said. “It’s greatly delayed us on the schedule.”

He said they had a lot of initial ground work after finding more than 6,000 cubic yards of undercut – like mud which possesses no structural strength to support machinery and future structure – that wasn’t suitable for use the crews had to dig out, haul off and replace.

In addition, Rappold said the crews have also had a “learning curve” when it came to installing the new system, roughly 5,000 square-feet of pipe buried under the parking lot to catch rain-water runoff “to ease the speed” in which it’s dumped into the city’s drainage system.

In regard to his position, the LCD asked what it is the superintendent is responsible for.

“I oversee all aspects of the project and coordination of all the different subcontractors from the safety to coordination, the scheduling, man-power issues and keeping the hospital updated with progress and how things are going,” he said.

Rappold said it’s rewarding to the project nearing completion.

“Right now, we’re getting to the top of the ladder, per say,” he said. “We’ve started out at the bottom with the clearing, went from the clearing to the undercut process, got the undercut process and fill material started (then) came in and put (the) pipes in.”

From there, Rappold said his estimated 25-men crew then came in and finished the fill, began the parking lot’s curbs and then put down gravel on top of that.

“Now, we’re nearing completion of the curb today,” he told the LCD on Tuesday.

Next is laying the asphalt.

The project superintendent said the pieces of rock serves as a bridge, creating a “good, compacted, firm, rigid layer” on top of the fill material to support the asphalt from “wanting to flex and break.”

As far as when they’ll be done, Rappold said they’re shooting for the end of July.

“Right now, it’s day by day,” he said.

Once done though, Rappold said it wont be long before they start on the medical offices.

“It’ll be pretty quickly behind the completion of the parking lot,” he said.

Rappold discussed how the crew works through the stages when working a expansion project this big.

“Lots of coordination, lots of meetings,” he said. “There’s a lot of pieces you have to put into the puzzle to keep everything progressing forward.”

The new medical office building will be:

• Four-story, 56,000 square feet in space.

• Dedicated to women’s health services.

• Home to Conway OB-GYN and Conway Women’s Health, two of the three primary obstetrics and gynecology practices in Conway.

• An expansion of the neuroscience center and pain management services.

• Located on the northeast end of the hospital’s campus.

• Expanded critical care unit (CCU) – above hospital’s surgical services area – to house new technology and 26 patient beds, with ability to add more.

The first phase of the expansion project, in addition to the parking lot, also includes the completed renovations to the Conway Regional Health and Fitness Center off Salem Street, a new critical care unit with increased beds, lab and pharmacy and a focus on the Greenbrier clinic, current plans set to expand to house more physicians, give staff the ability to provide physical therapy, give specialists space to see patients and add a fitness center.