Tunnel project, chiller plant to improve service to east campus

Work is slated to begin May 11 to upgrade and provide necessary repairs to the University’s South Tunnel, which carries steam, electrical service and water to the east half of campus. The improvements will also expand the capacity of the tunnel to handle future growth in that area, including the new Wolfe Center for the Arts, says senior project manager Robert Boucher, design and construction.

Also this summer, work is expected to begin on a new chilled-water plant to be located southeast of the Fine Ars Center. The new plant will chill water for air-conditioning the Health Center, the Fine Arts Center, Moore Musical Arts Center and, eventually, the Wolfe Center. Additional capacity has been included in the design for future expansion.

Campus construction plan map
The campus community will be able to view the location of the tunnel work, along with all other exterior campus construction projects, using a new map that the design and construction office has posted. “The map will be a real benefit to the campus in allowing us to visualize where work is going on, and will give the community access to what’s forthcoming,” said University Architect James McArthur, director of the design and construction office. City officials, contractors and delivery personnel will also be able to use it to modify routes, he added.

To view the map, which includes dates of projects, visit

Replacing and upgrading the South Tunnel is part of the University’s Infrastructure Master Plan to regenerate and replace older utility systems, avert potential problems and increase efficiency, McArthur said. “The South Tunnel is the first priority on the Infrastructure Master Plan,” he said.

Also part of the infrastructure plan is the creation of a Geographic Information System (GIS) map of campus utilities that will be further developed by the office’s Data Hub and Resource Center, headed by Daniel Lemmerbrock.

South Tunnel
The overall cost of the project is about $6 million, which comes from a combination of funding from the state and local sources. The U.R.S. Corp. of Cleveland is the design consultant on the project, and Mosser Construction of Fremont is the lead contractor.

In the first phase of the project, a new tunnel will be built to bypass the Centrex Building. From Centrex to East Hall, the existing, deteriorated tunnel will get a new top and the old piping will be replaced with larger piping. This will provide better reliability and steam and water flow. Repairs are needed for the tunnel portion near Kreischer; that work is also scheduled to begin May 11 and should be completed by August, Boucher said.

As part of the second phase of the project, the portion of the tunnel from East Hall to Harshman will be repaired next year.

The water line currently in the tunnel will be removed and a new, larger line buried beside it, both to eliminate potential damage from a break and to free up space within the tunnel.

“The old tunnels’ steam lines are undersized,” Boucher said. “The upsized lines will better accommodate the steam loads to the east half of campus. They could also provide backup for failures in other tunnels that will give us an alternate route to get steam to buildings.”

Minimizing impact
The work is planned to be as least disruptive to campus as possible and to keep construction equipment away from the “core of the campus,” McArthur said. There is typically much less activity on campus during the summer, and efforts will be made to minimize impact, Boucher added. Any effect on building services in the project area will be coordinated in advance and notice given to the appropriate personnel.

Trenching for the new water line will be ongoing from May to August, with digging and installation of pipe. Completed areas will be filled in as the work proceeds. The work will take place at various locations. The schedule is as yet undetermined; updates will be provided as changes occur using Campus Update emails.

Pedestrian and traffic flow will be rerouted as necessary throughout the summer, with some fencing and barricades as needed. Also, the South Tunnel project will require a large portion of Lot G (between East Hall and the Education Building) and some of nearby Lot A to be blocked off with construction fencing. “The campus may notice some noise and some dust, especially near University and Hanna halls and near Centrex in May and early June during excavation of the tunnel bypass,” Boucher said.

In August, tunnel work will move to the area of East Hall. “Depending on the weather and construction issues, we expect to complete this phase of the renovation in September,” Boucher said.

The chiller plant, an approximately $4 million project, has been designed by Bostwick Design Partnership of Cleveland. Financing comes from state and local funds. The work will probably begin in late summer and is expected to take about a year.

The design and construction office asks for the patience and understanding of the campus community while the improvements are under way, Boucher said, reminding everyone to use caution and keep safety in mind around construction areas. Contact the office at 2-2511 with construction inquiries.

April 20, 2009