What’s that big construction project off Portland Avenue in Midland?

Some may have noticed some construction activity along Portland Avenue in Midland.

Wondering what’s going in there?

In short, it’s tax dollars at work.

Let us refresh your memory.

In 2016, voters approved a $157 million, 20-year bond measure for Franklin Pierce School District for the first time in nearly two decades. That bond included the replacement of five elementary schools: Collins, Harvard, James Sales, Brookdale and Central Avenue — all of which were aging and facing maintenance problems.

Nearly three years later, construction has begun.

While some smaller bond projects have already been completed — a STEM building at Washington High School and a new gym for Ford Middle School — crews finally broke ground on three of the new elementary schools this summer.

One of them is the new Harvard Elementary along Portland Avenue.

At 54,000 square feet, the new school will sit on newly purchased school district parcels just north of the current Harvard Elementary building at 1709 85th St. E. After construction is completed by the end of next summer, the old Harvard building is expected to be demolished to make way for a community-use field.

Construction also started this summer on the new 54,000-square-foot James Sales Elementary, 11213 S. Sheridan Ave. in Parkland. The new building is being constructed just east of the current James Sales facility and is expected to open in summer 2020.

Finally, construction on the new 55,000-square-foot Collins Elementary is underway. Collins, currently located at 4608 128th St. E., is the only project currently under construction that’s being rebuilt more than a mile from its current location. The new school at the corner of 128th Street East and 18th Avenue East also is expected to open in summer 2020.

“All will be finished in time for next school year,” said Robin Heinrichs, lead for all Franklin Pierce capital projects.

Next summer, construction will begin on the final two replacement projects: Brookdale Elementary in Parkland and Central Avenue Elementary near Summit. Those schools are expected to be completed in the summer of 2021.

During construction, students from Brookdale will use the vacated James Sales site, and students from Central Avenue will use the vacated Collins site during the 2020-21 school year.