Construction on Fiat Chrysler's Mack plant resumes amid outbreak

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV halted construction Thursday evening on its new Detroit assembly plant after a subcontractor "potentially tested positive for COVID-19," but resumed work Friday morning, the automaker confirmed.

The automaker is transforming the idled Mack Avenue Engine Complex on Detroit's east side into the city's first new assembly plant in nearly 30 years. And it's on a tight deadline to do so in just 16 months so that production can begin in the last three months of this year.

Construction crews build the new paint shop at the FCA Mack Avenue site.

"Even though this individual is not one of our employees, out of an abundance of caution and in the best interests of everyone working at the site, we halted work so that the subcontractor can carry out a deep cleaning of all areas where their employees work," company spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement.

Work resumed when the company was satisfied that the site was ready to resume construction, Tinson added.

The work stoppage came after Fiat Chrysler along with its crosstown rivals agreed to shut down their North American facilities temporarily amid the new coronavirus pandemic following outcries from the rank-and-file and pressure from labor unions to do so.

Fiat Chrysler has had positive cases of the virus in facilities in Indiana and Michigan and has directed individuals who came into contact with them to self-quarantine. The company says it has implemented greater cleaning efforts and social distancing protocols at all of its facilities.

The new assembly plant is expected to begin producing a new full-size, three-row Jeep SUV in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee in early 2021.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble