New Lakewood High School plans drawn, construction begins in 2016

LAKEWOOD — Sketches and schematics of the new Lakewood High School are done, but construction won’t start for nearly a year.

The first phase of work originally was set to start in July but has been pushed back to March 2016 so crews aren’t stuck working in rainy weather if the project runs long, Superintendent Michael Mack said.

The work includes digging underground retention vaults for water runoff, installing utilities and paving some parking areas and an access road across the property. Those pieces are estimated to cost around $7 million and lay the groundwork for Phase Two, when the high school itself is built at the corner of 172nd Street Northeast and 11th Avenue Northeast.

“I would have liked to have seen some work this summer just so people can say, ‘Oh, there it is,’ ” Mack said. “But I think it’s more prudent to wait.”

The new high school is being paid for with a $66.8 million bond approved by voters in April 2014. The district originally requested the money for a renovation of the existing high school. The school board decided last year to instead build a new school since the price fit within the bond amount.

Plans call for a tall, glass entryway that will glow for the community like a lighthouse, Mack said. There will be a new performing arts center that can be used for music and drama classes as well as community events.

An auxiliary gym and a practice room for wrestling and gymnastics more than double the space for indoor sports, which currently share one high school gym. The cafeteria is to be expanded with more space and equipment for different food options.

The campus is keeping the same entrances and exits for cars and buses, but a new roundabout planned at the corner of 172nd and 11th could ease traffic by letting people loop around and turn right into the school rather than requiring them to stop during peak traffic times to wait on a left turn, Mack said.

Some of the most important changes in the new high school are related to safety, he said. All classrooms will be located inside of the building and there will be fewer exterior doors, according to the designs.

Currently, the high school has seven portable classrooms and 45 outside doors, making it difficult to control access. The new building also is expected to have safety gates that can lock down different wings of the school.

About 725 students attend Lakewood High School, and the new building is designed to hold 825. It will be about 160,000 square feet. The current building is about 89,000 square feet, but that doesn’t include portables and outdoor walkways. The new auxiliary gym and wrestling room also add a lot of square-footage, Mack said.

The goal is to have the high school complete by September 2017 so students can start that school year in the new building. That means next summer will be busy with construction.

“Early June next year, it’ll be all hands on deck,” Mack said.

From June 2016 until September 2017, crews will be building the new high school next to the current building, which later will be demolished. There may be some traffic and noise disruptions during the 2016-17 school year.

The district posts updates about the new high school online at www.lwsd.wednet.edu.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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