This past Thursday, the UW Board of Regents voted unanimously to approve the budget for the Babcock Hall Dairy Plant/Center for Dairy Research addition and renovation. The vote follows the state Division of Facilities Development acceptance of general contractor bids in late March.

The low bidder was C. D. Smith Construction, Inc. out of Fond du Lac, with a bid of $38,498,000 that includes construction, mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) subcontracts and an $8M process piping and equipment allowance. As anticipated by the state and university, this cost exceeded the original project budget.

The UW System, UW–Madison and the state Department of Administration worked together on an approach to fund the project. This plan was approved by the Regents. The project now goes to the state Building Commission on April 11. A construction start date will be determined following approval by the Building Commission.

Lou Gentine, chairman of Sargento Foods and member of the project’s executive committee said, “The proposal going before the Regents and the Building Commission meets the original intent of the industry investors. I join with the university in having confidence that we will have a building that is fully equipped as the dairy investors and Center for Dairy Research team had envisioned. This project continues the heritage of CDR leadership of dairy innovation in the State of Wisconsin.”

At the same meeting, the Regents approved an increase in the budget for the Meat Science Building, currently being constructed on Observatory Drive. During excavation, workers revealed that cinders from the old coal-fired plant, which dates back a century or more, were used extensively as fill. The cinders had to be removed and new structural soil installed. The sheer volume of material exceeded the anticipated amount, and the increased budget will cover unanticipated transportation costs and disposal fees.