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Despite almost 7 inches of rain this month, about double a typical May to date, work remains on schedule at Volkswagen's auto assembly plant, officials said Tuesday.

"They're making good progress," said Steve Leach, the city's public works administrator. "We've had a lot of rain."

Mr. Leach told the city's Industrial Development Board the building pads are draining well.

He said almost half of the needed steel- reinforced concrete columns have been put into place for the paint shop so far. Workers also are mobilizing for construction of the assembly and body shops, Mr. Leach said.

In addition, work is starting on the temporary visitors center and the training center, he said. Officials said work is on schedule for the project, though they added they didn't speak for VW.

Volkswagen officials two weeks ago said the project was about 10 days ahead of schedule.

Mr. Leach said that this time last year, there was work activity at Enterprise South industrial park through the Memorial Day weekend as they tried to make progress so VW officials could better see the site when they came in for another visit before picking Chattanooga.

This past weekend, the site was more relaxed with a limited work schedule, he said.

Meanwhile, board members approved a $2.5 million change order for a contract with East Tennessee Grading that increases its work to $15.5 million.

Bill Payne, city engineer, said the change order invovlved work the cost of which could not be estimated from earlier plans. He said some of the work goes back to the fall.

Mr. Payne said he does not foresee other changes of that size in the future.

"It's our hope with everything we can see right now that the remaining contingency should be enough," he said.

The $1 billion plant is slated to open in early 2011, producing a new midsize sedan aimed at the American market and employing about 2,000 workers.

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