Nearly six months after announcing Ohio’s biggest economic development project, Intel has officially started work on the site in New Albany.
Gilbane Building, which is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, and is among the top commercial construction contractors in Greater Columbus, began excavation work Friday on the nearly 1,000-acre site, according to Intel.
The semiconductor company announced in January that it will spend $20 billion to build two factories that will employ 3,000 workers earning an average wage of $135,000 annually. Intel has said the project will create about 7,000 construction jobs.
The two plants are expected to start producing semiconductors in 2025.
Gilbane is among the first group of companies to be awarded contracts by the semiconductor company. Gilbane will partner with McDaniel’s Construction, located in Columbus’ Near East Side; Northstar Contracting, a Cleveland-based company with operations in Westerville; and GTSA Constructing Consulting, based in Columbus’ German Village, on the project.
Intel laid out more details for the project Thursday night in an invitation-only meeting in Johnstown with about 40 neighbors who live closest to the Licking County site, part of a series of meetings that Intel plans with those who live in the area.
Intel expects contractors to work Monday through Saturday on the site. The company said it will take steps to mitigate the dust from the excavation by applying water to the site regularly, washing trucks going in and out of the site and cleaning the streets.
Intel said work will conclude at 5:30 p.m. on most days. Bad weather may require workers to stay longer, but never past 9 p.m., Intel said.
Water for the project will come from wells on the site through the rest of the year, Intel said, but it doesn’t expect taking water from the area will impact neighbors’ wells. Intel expects to start using city of Columbus water in 2023.
Intel will hire a full-time neighbor relations representative to work with neighbors on the project and to keep them advised of the project’s progress.
The city of New Albany, which has annexed a large area of Jersey Township where the plants will be located, said truck traffic will rise on Mink Street throughout July and into August as a result of work on the Intel site.
Several roads are currently closed or open only for restricted use, including: Miller Road east of Clover Valley Road; Clover Valley Road south of Miller Road; and Jug Street between U.S. 62 and Beech Road, which is open to local traffic.
Miller Road east of Clover Valley, and Clover Valley south of Miller, are closed to through traffic, but open to local traffic.
New Albany is widening Jug Street between Beech Road and Harrison Road to three lanes and constructing a roundabout at Harrison Road.
The city is also constructing a road north of Jug Street at Harrison Road for truck traffic headed to and from the Intel site. The road should be ready in August.
Jug Street between U.S. 62 and Beech Road is open to local traffic. Beginning July 20, the Jug-Beech intersection will be mostly closed to traffic for roughly 16 days, weather permitting.
In separate Intel news, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is threatening to hold up federal legislation meant to provide $52 billion in aid for the semiconductor industry that Intel says is necessary to build the two New Albany factories, and potentially up to eight factories and a $100 billion investment.
The House and Senate have passed separate versions of a bill dubbed the CHIPS Act. It has become part of the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act.
“Let me be perfectly clear: there will be no bipartisan USICA as long as Democrats are pursuing a partisan reconciliation bill,” McConnell tweeted Thursday.
Since Intel’s announcement of its New Albany project, it has pushed for Congress to pass the legislation. Last week, the company said it was delaying its official groundbreaking for the New Albany site as a symbolic protest over the inaction by Congress.
“It is time for Congress to act so we can move forward at the speed and scale we have long envisioned for Ohio and our other projects to help restore U.S. semiconductor manufacturing leadership and build a more resilient semiconductor supply chain,” the company said.
Gov. Mike DeWine, in an interview with CNBC, said he has received assurance from members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, that the legislation will pass soon.
DeWine said Intel has told his team that the funding would be the difference between a $20 billion project built over several years, and an $80-100 billion investment “within a relatively short period of time.”
“But they also said, ‘Look, if we don’t have the CHIPS Act, we just can’t do that. We’re coming to Ohio, but we’re not going to roll nearly as fast.’”
The industry has said the aid is necessary to bring production of semiconductors back to the U.S. where production has slipped in recent decades.
The chips are needed to power everything from cell phones to cars to gaming consoles and military equipment.