We talked to several people who are associated with the expansion project in Blacksburg that involves the Dairy Complex, Virginia Tech Montgomery Airport, and VDOT's plans for a new Southgate interchange, and found most are surprised at how fast the project is beginning to come together.
About 240 cows will be moved 20 minutes from campus to a new home on Kentland Farm in the McCoy area of Montgomery County. A lot of dirt has been moved since the groundbreaking in September. English Construction out of Lynchburg is doing the work. Many of the current silos and barns are old and in need of repair.
Some of these buildings you are looking at were built in the '50s and '60s," said Virginia Tech Dairy Department Head Mike Akers.
Some of the newer equipment will be relocated along with the cows. The Dairy Department will have to be fully vacated from the current location by March of 2015. The move is about more than growing the Dairy Department and all that it has to offer.
"If you look off in that direction you are looking toward where the airport is located. The runway will extend toward us right over this area, basically," Akers says.
The Virginia Tech-Montgomery County Airport Authority will extend the runway to accommodate larger corporate jets.
"The expansion is important to the economic development of Southwest Virginia," says Larry Hincker, Virginia Tech's associate vice president for university relations.
Across the street from the airport, there is new construction that is part of the VT Research Center growth. One day, there will be a new Southgate interchange where cows now roam. All of the moving parts of the project rely on each other for progress. So far that progress is moving quickly.
"So, suddenly, those three things coming together really forced the department's hand, the university's hand, to make something happen," Akers says.
It is taking millions of dollars to make the project happen.
Phase one includes the airport purchase of land to expand the runway at the cost of $9.4 million. That money will go toward the $14 million for phase 1 of the dairy expansion.
The Dairy Department will use money from milk sales to the Virginia Department of Corrections, in addition to General Fund money, and the remaining balance for the interchange comes from VDOT.
"If we can replace multiple old structures and get facilities that make us even more competitive for research dollars in a better position to attract undergraduate students, that is wonderful," Akers says.
The overall project estimates are as follows:
Airport – $27.1 million
This is total project cost including land acquisition, changes to roadways and Huckleberry Trail, runway extension, and other airport enhancements.
Dairy Science Complex
Phase I – educational component is $14 million (university money)
Phase II – research facility is $7.6 million (general fund)
The 460/Southgate Interchange
Estimated total project cost is $46.7 million.
Total for everything is about 95 million dollars.
Link to more about Virginia Tech's Agricultural Experiment Station.
Link to specific details about the expansion project.