The project, meant to wrap up before winter, is now looking to conclude by March.
Across campus, construction crews are replacing the pipelines that carry the university’s heated water due to corroded pipes. However, the construction has gone far past its deadline, leaving students and faculty to wonder what is happening. Bob Shipley, the Associate Vice President for Operations and Physical Plant, says there have been many setbacks to the project.
After the original deadline of October or early November 2018, the project was delayed the first time after construction workers came upon a large concrete structure right outside of the Physical Plant. It was part of a pipeline that was installed about 50 years ago and was unknown to Physical Plant personnel.
Because of the location of the anchor, new pipes had to be ordered so the pipeline could go around the concrete. This is because, according to Shipley, “The pipeline consists of an inner pipe, which carries the hot water, and an outer pipe, which protects the insulation around the inner pipe to keep the heat from leaking out into the earth.”
At the moment, construction has hit upon another problem after discovering a water line that was installed several years ago was installed in the wrong location. The water line was supposed to be located farther away from the intended construction site next to fraternity row but is instead right in their path.
Another setback came when a vital piece of equipment, a network box, was put on backorder and is currently unavailable. This box is needed so the manhole next to the Mabee Gym can be filled.
Finally, about a month to six weeks ago, the project had to be shut down for 10 days after discovering a gas line that ran down the length of a ditch that had been previously excavated. The gas line “had to be propped up to keep it from falling” and because it was in such “bad shape,” the Physical Plant had to rely on ONG, Oklahoma Natural Gas company, to come and patch it.
Once Physical Plant is done with the original construction and the fence is removed, ONG is going to come back to install a new gas line.
“The good news is that they aren’t going to open the ditch back up but do it by boring,” said Shipley.
According to Shipley, directional boring is a minimal impact, trenchless method that installs underground pipe through the ground using a hydraulic system. There will be more construction, but the ditches won’t be opened up again.
Shipley said, “In my opinion, the construction has gone very slow,” though he has shared that he is “happy” that the construction will resume soon.
Many old pieces of the pipe have been replaced since May 2018, and the replacements will continue over the next few years. The current stage of the project, the muddy ground and static holes that can be seen around the Physical Plant, will hopefully be done by the end of March.
Shipley advises students to continue to be careful around the construction sites and be courteous of the workers involved with the project. He also advises the students to be cautious of occasional gas leaks that may occur in the future and to report any smell of gas to the Physical Plant.