After more than a year of planning, construction vehicles are chugging their way around the site of what eventually will be a new indoor swimming pool at Libertyville High School.
Separated from the rest of the campus by metal safety fencing, a bulldozer operator from Berger Excavating Contractors in Wauconda pushed dirt around the construction site Monday as an excavator dumped load after heavy load of that same dark soil into the back of a dump truck for removal.
Site preparation for the $21.5 million project began this summer, but the real heavy lifting is only now getting underway.
"We're excited to be on our way to having an amazing new facility for our students and community to use," Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 spokeswoman Mary Todoric said.
The 38,000-square-foot natatorium is being built in front of the school building, just west of a softball field. It will replace an indoor pool that was built in 1971 on the north side of the building and no longer is in competitive condition.
Officials initially discussed replacing the pool in 2014 but shelved the project until February 2016, when fiscal planning for such an undertaking began in earnest.
Officials considered adding a second gymnasium and other athletic amenities at sister school Vernon Hills High last year, too, but that project was put aside because of financial concerns.
The new pool will be used by the school's swimming, diving and water polo teams, students in physical education classes, members of various aquatic clubs and people taking private swim classes.
It will be wider and longer than the old pool, contain a deep section for diving, have more spectator space and have better ventilation.
The natatorium is scheduled to be completed in spring 2019.
Because of the construction, a new traffic flow for students, parents and bus drivers was implemented at the start of the school year.
The number of on-campus student parking spaces at the school was reduced because of the construction, too.
Fortunately, officials say they haven't encountered any problems with parking or traffic.
"Our students, parents, staff and community have been amazingly cooperative with regard to the new traffic patterns and parking," Todoric said. "We can't thank everyone enough for making this a smooth transition."
With winter weather on the way, officials will continue monitoring traffic flow on campus and make adjustments if needed, Todoric said.