Behind the barricades: Underground suprises drag out campus roadwork.

On Thursday, Aug. 26, campus transporation staff met with contractors on the east campus utility improvement project.

“The news was not good,” senior transportation planner Rob Kennedy said in a memo. “New estimates  suggest that work will be done significantly later than planned at Observatory Dr., Langdon St., and N. Park St. north of University Ave. University Ave. at Breese and N. Park St. south of University Ave. are still on schedule.”

Here’s a location-by-location update.

  • University Ave at Campus Dr. and Breese Terrace:  On schedule. Target date to reopen is Wednesday 9/1.  Rain date is Friday 9/3.
  • N. Park St. between University Ave. and Johnson St.:  One week behind schedule. Target date to reopen is Wednesday 9/1.  All pavement has been poured and restoration is being finalized. No rain date needed. If anything, we may need to keep the road closed here during move-in so that Housing’s directions about detours to parents and incoming students are not confused.
  • Observatory Dr.:  Three to four weeks behind schedule. New estimate for reopening is Monday 9/20.  Note: if Observatory Dr. can reopen earlier than Langdon St. and Park St. north of University Ave., it will run westbound only. This gets the buses running, provides some congestion relief, and avoids dumping traffic into the already congested one-way portion of Park St.
  • Park St. north of University Ave.:  Four weeks behind schedule. New estimate for reopening to two-way traffic is Monday, 9/20.
  • Langdon St.:  Five weeks behind schedule. New estimate to reopen is Monday, 10/4.

Why is this project behind schedule?  Some days have been lost to extraordinary rainfall that filled in utility pits and shifted resources to erosion control.  Most of the lost days were due, however, to old, unidentified utilities found in the way of the utilities being installed, or because existing, identified utilities were found where they were not expected to be. This is the oldest part of the campus and many utilities were buried here before mapping them for future information was practiced or accurately done. Also, the University has an unusual number of utilities, for example, chilled water, steam, and signal conduits that are not used in most of the rest of the city.  An 1892 water main was the problem in a couple of cases as was a sanitary sewer with an unidentified building source.