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Campus construction becomes invisible

 

Most of the ground on the University of Toledo’s campus stands fully intact, with some areas including an array of water lines surging underneath to provide heating and cooling to university buildings. In just a few months, parts of the ground will be broken and construction crews will rip out existing lines.

 

According to Jason Toth, associate vice president of facilities and construction, the third phase of campus infrastructure, a part of the $30 million bond funds that were approved by the Board of Trustees approximately a year ago, will replace older sections of the underground steam, condensate and chilled water lines on Main Campus.

 

Toth expects the project to begin “as soon as weather allows. Likely in March or April.”

 

The $1.7 million project, described in an email from Toth, includes work in Lot 10 near the Larimer Athletic Complex, Lot 9 near Carter Hall, Lot 27A near Ottawa West and Lot 26 near the Main Campus Medical Center.

 

Although, this is not a construction project students will “see” Toth wrote, “it is one that they will feel.”

 

With 83 percent of buildings on campus looped into underground utilities that provide heating and cooling to the buildings, “the improvements with the replacement of these underground utilities will provide better reliability and performance,” Toth wrote.

 

Dean of the College of Engineering Michael Toole expanded upon the necessity of replacing the underground water lines.

 

“We take the built environment, we try to give order to it, then Mother Nature starts breaking it down,” said Toole. “All manufactured pipes deteriorate overtime.”

 

When the naturally deteriorated pipes are replaced, “one immediate benefit is almost always a reduced risk of sudden failure,” Toole said, noting additional benefits such as increased operating efficiency, fewer leaks and a decrease in dangers to the environment such as compounds leaking into the soil or groundwater.

 

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers publishes the Infrastructure Report Card, grading the nation’s infrastructure categories on a scale of A to F.

 

Backing up Toole’s theory of a reduced risk of sudden failure because of regular maintenance, the report states, “The Failure to Act studies have found that the fundamental impacts of underinvestment in infrastructure will be higher costs to businesses...as a consequence of less efficient and more costly infrastructure services.”

 

Unlike the construction on Bancroft Road, which impacted commuters by creating just a single lane of traffic at the beginning of the year, Toth does not expect the upcoming infrastructure update to crowd students’ paths to class.

 

“Work will be coordinated to limit interruption to normal activities on campus,” Toth wrote. “We will communicate ahead of time [regarding] work in particular areas with the help of University Communications to inform students, faculty, staff and visitors.”

 

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