January 20, 2006

Front of Cobb entrenched as campus construction continues

Construction equipment and heavy machinery have joined the maze of temporary fencing, orange netting, and sandstone pavers that have occupied a substantial area of the central part of campus for weeks, as the project to renovate the main quads slowly progresses.

In the latest phase of an ongoing effort by the Capital Planning Committee (CPC) to maintain and modernize some of the oldest buildings on campus, construction crews have begun a project to extend chilled-water piping from the Regenstein Chiller Plant into Cobb and Haskell halls.

To run the pipe, construction workers burrowed large trenches, approximately 10 feet deep, across the southern side of the main quads, but their progress has been impeded by recent rain.

“All major work, including digging, piping, connections to the mains, back filling, and rough restoring of top surfaces was scheduled to be completed by January 27, 2006,” said Robert Tiberg, director of operations and maintenance for facilities services. “Due to bad weather conditions, there is minor delay and now this should be finished by February 3, 2006.”

The ditches have earned quizzical looks from students hurrying between the classrooms, libraries, and coffee shops that frame the main quad.

“It looks like they’ve just been digging big holes and filling them back up with dirt,” said Randall Williams, a first-year in the College. “I’m just surprised that nobody has fallen into one yet.”

Construction is also continuing on the repaving of walkways on the main quads. The University had planned to replace the concrete inner walkways with more classic and traditional sandstone pavers by the end of last year, but complications with the weather have led to delays—most significantly at the inner circle, which was initially slated for completion by November 14, but remains under construction.

“Ward Contracting has pulled off doing heavy equipment work until spring,” Tiberg said. “They will be on site this week to continue sweeping the stone joints with sand. We will probably restart in mid-March, weather permitting.”

Once work starts again, the inner circle should take approximately one week to complete, and the paths to Ryerson, Swift, and Rosenwald should take three weeks.

“The new walkways are really nice, especially compared to how they used to be,” said second-year in the College Nate Waggoner. “But it does look kind of bad when the dead center of your campus has been a fenced-off patch of dirt for like two months, and they’re not even doing anything.”

Meanwhile, work continues on the other projects recently undertaken by the University’s Facilities Services. The roof replacement of Cobb and Haskel halls, which the University hopes will be completed by June of 2006, continues on track.

The Capital Planning Committee, consisting of the associate vice president for facilities services, the associate provost for planning, and the University budget director, is responsible for the planning and oversight of the University campus.