Source: Times Free Press | Mike Pare | February 27, 2018

Contributed photo rendering / A rendering of how the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 in Oak Ridge, Tenn., will appear when it’s finished in 2025. Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Tennessee’s biggest single building project ever at $6.5 billion is well underway, and in-state companies are garnering about 30 percent of the business, officials say.

The Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex here will employ more than 2,000 workers on site when construction peaks in a few years to build a more modern location to enrich materials used in America’s nuclear arsenal.

About $200 million has been spent so far and another $600 million in construction and procurement is authorized for the mammoth job.

“The construction project has a ramp-up phase,” said U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn. “There’s a need for money that will increase.”

Fleischmann, who led a delegation of Chattanooga business people to Oak Ridge this week, said about $900 million annually will be needed in future years to complete the project by 2025.

Dale Christenson, UPF’s federal project director, said the new UPF facility will replace an aging operation at Y-12 that dates back to the Manhattan Project, the secret research and development effort during World War II that produced the first nuclear weapons.

“We’re getting out of a 75-year-old facility and into one that’s much needed,” he said.

Design is essentially complete and the construction estimate and schedule are finalized, said Christenson to the delegation organized by EPB and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Contributed photo / Cranes hovering over the Uranium… Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Almost all the work so far has been underground so as to secure the foundation of the facility, said John Howanitz, who is overseeing the project.

For example, dirt was excavated at the site to bedrock and about 150,000 cubic yards of concrete was poured, he said. That’s more concrete than was used to build the entire new Mercedes-Benz football stadium in Atlanta, Howanitz said.

Vertical construction on UPF will begin in the spring, he said.

Already, there are a couple of enormous cranes at the site. Howanitz said the tallest is 360 feet high and officials believe the cranes are the largest in the Northern Hemisphere. He said nearly a third of the work on UPF has been secured by Tennessee companies, and officials hope to keep the number at that level moving ahead.