COVID-19 pandemic delays NBAF construction

Construction on the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility was projected to be complete in December 2020. (Archive photo by Parker Robb | Collegian Media Group)

Construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan faces a delay caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The timeline before the COVID-19 outbreak anticipated construction would be finished by December 2020, allowing the facility to be commissioned by May 2021. Both deadlines are now pushed back.

Tim Barr, NBAF project manager for the Department of Homeland Security, said due to the impacts of COVID-19 on labor and material availability, the Science and Technology Directorate is forecasting a potential two-and-a-half month delay to the project.

Barr could not pinpoint a new date as further schedule delays are likely.

“The DHS NBAF Program is forecasting that the cost associated with these delays can be accommodated with currently available funding within the approved cost baseline of $1.251 billion,” Barr said.

William Bryan, DHS senior official performing the duties of the under secretary for Science and Technology, designated NBAF construction as an essential project and critical to DHS. Barr said this provides support for the continuation of most activities at the construction site in Manhattan, consistent with COVID-19 restrictions.

“We are still averaging about 200 to 250 construction personnel on-site daily, and we have implemented [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines to include social distancing where possible,” Barr said.

Personnel are actively using face coverings and implementing additional measures to ensure the safety of everyone working on site, Barr said.