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A fire station serving the Volkswagen auto assembly plant and the growing area around it will start going up Thursday.

"This was one of the buildings we knew would be important to have adjacent to the VW site," said Steve Leach, Chattanooga's public works administrator, about the $2.9 million project.

Tthe fire station, to be built on a 4.5-acre tract at Hickory Valley Road and Discovery Drive near the plant, will be one of two going up at Enterprise South industrial park, Mr. Leach said.

The second will be a smaller facility on the VW parcel, he said.

Ted Mills, chairman of the city's Industrial Development Board, said the firehall on which ground will be broken today will serve not just the automaker.

"It will serve the community as well as VW," he said.

The 11,300-square-foot facility will hold living quarters, offices and a training room. The three-bay structure will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certified as officials said they'll try for a silver level.

Energy conservation measures will include a solar hot water system, energy efficient mechanical systems and heat reflective roofing. Rainwater will be collected for irrigation and toilet flushing.

The city, which is funding the station's construction, acquired the former Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant tract a number of years ago, Mr. Leach said.

Work on the station is expected to be complete in mid-August. Thomas Brothers is doing the grading; the construction contract hasn't been awarded yet, Mr. Leach said.

City Engineer Bill Payne said bids on the firehall that will go on the VW plant site came in too high. D.F. Chase had offered a $4.7 million low bid. Mr. Payne said the budget for the station is $1.6 million.

He said the project will be rebid soon.

VW is slated to start producing cars in early 2011.

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