Q: I saw a mobile drill that looks like an oil drill on a truck in the parking lot south of Rally House. Are they drilling for oil in Aggieville?
By now, Manhattan residents are used to the city’s summer construction traffic, but on Friday morning, you might’ve seen a more unusual construction vehicle.
Workers with Olsson Associates used a truck-mounted drilling rig to dig into the parking lot south of Rally House in Aggieville, but they weren’t drilling for oil.
They took soil samples for a potential five-story parking garage at that site.
The work crew said they were drilling five 60-foot deep holes to test the soil’s compaction — a necessary test for any substantial construction project. Three of the holes included an additional 15 feet of rock core. The engineering firm will use those samples to evaluate the soil and water table underneath the lot. The crews used five of the lot’s parking spaces for the holes, but those spots should be patched Friday as well, city officials said.
The Manhattan City Commission in late May approved design work, but not construction, on a five-story parking garage for the district. Based on preliminary design concepts, the parking garage could potentially hold as many as 489 parking spots with 10,700 square feet of ground level commercial space. Without the commercial space, the parking garage could hold as many 521 spaces.
For just the design work, the city is paying $1.2 million, but the design process also includes a parking management plan for all of Aggieville.
If workers somehow do find oil in the site testing process, the city could use any oil revenue to pay for the expected $15.5 million parking garage. In any case, the city commission is expected to vote on requesting bids for the project in September.
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