"It's like trying to build a moving ship."
That is how E. Gregory Thorpe, a principal in the firm of Eckhoff, Watson and Preator Engineering, describes how it has been to work on the Utah Winter Sports Park, which will be dedicated at Bear Hollow, north of Park City, Saturday.His analogy to the moving ship is the result of the numerous roadblocks and changes the engineering firm and its joint venture partner, Van Boerum & Frank Associates, have encountered in getting the sports park to this point.
Saturday's ceremony will dedicate the ski jumps, many of which have been completed. The jumps apparently took over center stage on the sports park agenda, displacing the bobsled/luge run that originally was the center of attention. Jumping events already have been held on the hills.
Thorpe said EWP had eight local consultants and five specialty consultants working on the different venues and bid packages, including Jan Steler, of Marseille, France, who has designed several bob-sled/luge runs in various parts of the world.
The sports park was one year in the design stage and 18 months in construction, and it involved more than 50 people from the two firms. Because much of the infrastructure for the project was tied into the bid package on the bobsled/luge run, which was delayed, other bid packages had to be changed accordingly, Thorpe said.
David W. Eckhoff, EWP president, said the Utah Sports Authority originally was looking for venues where facilities could be built for the Winter Olympic Games, but when Salt Lake City's bid failed twice, the concept changed to providing training facilities and hosting various types of competitions.
So it became a multiseasonal facility, Eckhoff said. That required several people from both firms to visit Europe and Calgary, Canada, site of the 1988 Winter Olympics, to get ideas for the Bear Hollow project.
One of the early problems occurred when a landowner decided not to sell his land, which was the proposed site for the bodsled/luge course, Eckhoff said. The entire course had to be redesigned.
At one point, EWP officials thought the entire project could be built in 18 months, but with the changes, 18 months of construction haven't brought an end to the work.
So far, $10.2 million has been spent at Bear Hollow on construction of a tank that will be used to provide water for the park and a landowner and on earthwork for the ski jumps. In June a bid was awarded for completing the ski jumps, Thorpe said.
EWP has plenty of experience in the ups and down of winter sports facilities engineering and design work. Its participation began in 1983 when the push for Salt Lake City to host the 1994 Winter Olympics began. EWP was hired by a Winter Olympics Committee to prepare a technical feasibility study and determine the alternative venues for the various events.
The engineering firm worked with the team of Underwood-McClellan, Calgary, and Richardson Associates, a Salt Lake architectural firm, to determine what would be required at the various venues. Salt Lake City lost its U.S. bid to Anchorage, Alaska, which subsequently lost the bid to Lille-ham-mer, Norway.
EWP continued its involvement in the winter sports facilities project on a volunteer basis but in 1989 prepared Salt Lake City's bid to host the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. Salt Lake City received the U.S. bid, but lost to Nagano, Japan, and now officials are working toward the 2002 bid.
Eckhoff said the Utah Winter Sports Park project surfaced when the U.S. Olympic Committee passed a resolution that said the host city needed a commitment for facilities before a bid could be submitted. With a small portion of the sales tax as authorized by a referendum vote, the state committed $56 million to build the winter sports facilities that could be used for the Olympics.
Then, counties were invited to submit proposals on sites for the facilities, and the Bear Hollow site was selected. The Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management, project coordinator, asked for proposals for the engineering and design work, and EWP submitted a proposal and won, probably because of its experience with this type of project.