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Interview with chief construction supervisor Roger Letter (2003)

You are the first of many project supervisors/building contractors who will get "glattpark" built. What were your feelings at the turning of the first sod?

One the one hand, I was pleased that following an intensive planning period we could finally start. On the other, I felt deep respect for the tasks I was faced with. Realizing such a huge and complex development project is not precisely an every-day business. With a full year of construction work behind us, I am proud of the work performed by all parties involved.

For what tasks are you responsible and what is the state of the construction work?

The primary task of all involved is the development of the neighborhood as stipulated in the neighborhood plan for Oberhauserriet. These tasks are done in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of the landowners.

As my most important task, I consider the timely availability of necessary documents and decisions to enable the people on the site to work expeditiously and efficiently. Besides, it is important to coordinate the different development projects belonging to different building contractors and to supervise the commissioned experts.

As to the state of the construction work, the soil improvement program and earth moving work as well as some two thirds of the project's pipeline network have been concluded. Still pending is the road construction work.

Were there been any problems at the beginning?

That the ground would be difficult and give us problems, we knew from the beginning; it did not come as a surprise. I attribute the difficulties that happened to administrative reasons. We have different building contractors working on the same trench. In addition to the actual neighborhood development plan with road construction and sewer system, there are additional operators of pipeline networks to be integrated into these processes: utilities for water, electricity and gas, telephone and television, long-distance heat and privately-operated telecommunications companies. All these companies have their own internal structures and processes which can seriously hamper coordination. In the beginning, it was particularly difficult to communicate urgency and complexity of the construction site. For example, that long-distance heat generation to this day does not have a legally binding loan for its pipes illustrates the issue.

Quite time-consuming has been the internal processing of the neighborhood development plan. Cost allocation of this neighborhood plan is strictly based on the beneficiary principle. This means in reality for instance that every franc expended will be allocated to the landowners depending on its use and according to one of the more than 30 different cost allocation schemes.

What construction work can we see by the end of 2003?

Much of the complex underground pipeline network will no longer be visible. I expect the preliminary stage of surface improvement work to be largely finished in order that by 2004, landscape work can be realized. I also hope, of course, to be able to see several privately-initiated excavations.

When will you realize the wide-open park with lake?

Building the park is tied to various other projects, heavily affecting the timing. Contract negotiations on project plans are currently under way. Realistically, I expect construction work to begin in 2004.

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