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Summer Detour

Steam tunnel work to provide temporary scenery change

The first phase of KU's top deferred maintenance priority will temporarily change the landscape of Mount Oread this summer but address a problem that's long overdue.

Steam tunnel map crop

Submitted/Design and Construction Mangement

Click the image or scroll to the bottom of this page to see the full-sized map.

Work will begin on the first phase of a three-year, $8.9 million project to repair and upgrade KU's deteriorating steam tunnels. The project will be very visible, rerouting traffic and erecting a large fence from Watson Library to Dyche Hall. Preliminary work on the project is scheduled from April 15 to May 20, and the major thrust of the work is set to begin immediately after commencement, which will take place May 18.

Contractors will begin digging a trench roughly 15 feet wide and 15 feet deep west of Watson Library. The work will continue north from there across Jayhawk Boulevard, then angle to the northeast along Mississippi Street, following behind Lippincott Hall and ending at Dyche Hall. A fence will be constructed on both sides of the trench along the entire route of the work.

Both pedestrian and vehicular traffic will be affected by the work.

"The thing that will affect students and employees most is that a few sidewalks in the area of Dyche and Lippincott Halls will be closed and Jayhawk Boulevard will have a slight detour," said Gary Lawson, project manager with Design and Construction Management. "The changes may cause some inconvenience, but are necessary to complete the job properly."

A detour of Jayhawk Boulevard will be routed into what is now the lawn in front of Watson Library and back to the boulevard east of the intersection with Sunflower Drive. Sidewalks will follow the detour as well. The detour is scheduled to last from May 20 to Aug. 11. The contractor may close Jayhawk Boulevard to vehicular traffic May 21-25. That decision is pending. The landscaping will be returned to its original state after the work and detour materials will be removed, Lawson said.

Mississippi Street will be closed from Memorial Drive to Jayhawk Boulevard for the same period of time. Mississippi Street will reopen as a one-lane southbound only from Jayhawk Boulevard to Memorial Drive from Aug. 11 to Nov. 11. Memorial Drive will remain open throughout the project.

Once Jayhawk Boulevard is re-established, work crews will be placing new piping and electrical and communications cabling in the tunnels. There may be short outages of power in the area during the work, Lawson said. The outages should be around eight hours and will come during the summer. Lawson said notices will be sent to the university community before any planned outages take place.

The project and resulting detours will not alter any of KU's bus routes.

A number of trees will need to be removed to accommodate the work. The KU Tree Committee is working with Design and Construction Management and Facilities Operations to plan how to replace them.

"We're trying to minimize the impact this work will have on the trees on campus," said Jim Modig, director of Design and Construction Management. "Some of them are near the end of their lives, and we will be replacing as many of them as we can."

Repairs to the tunnels are long overdue.

"For years and years, there has been water leaking in there and deteriorating the tunnels, and the utilities contained in them," Lawson said. "We're putting these new tunnels in so they're water proof and the utilities last longer, but also so they're safe for the people who work in them."

The tunnels carry steam from the main power plant to buildings across campus, as well as electrical cables and data services, such as Internet, in some places. Many of the tunnels were constructed around 1900.

Dennis Crupper, an engineer with Design and Construction Management, said he estimates about 10,000 cubic yards of dirt and waste will be removed during the project. Trucks will be on campus to remove the waste, but the contractor has not yet determined the route they will take during removal.

The work is being funded by $8.9 million of the state's allocation to the university to deal with deferred maintenance. Of that allocation, $6 million is earmarked for the first phase of the project.

The second phase of the project is scheduled for 2009 and will construct new tunnels north of Bailey Hall, stretching to the north side of Strong Hall. It will also include reconstruction of a tunnel segment on the south side of Stauffer-Flint Hall in either 2009 or 2010. The third phase will replace a deteriorated and inaccessible segment that presently extends from Strong Hall to Wescoe Hall.

Full sized map of steam tunnel construction

Submitted/Design and Construction Mangement

This map shows where the first phase of repairs to KU's steam tunnels will take place this summer. The dark-shaded area shows where the tunnels will be repaired, from Watson Library to Dyche Hall. The light-shaded area shows where a detour of Jayhawk Boulevard will be constructed. The sidewalk on the south side of Jayhawk Boulevard will follow the same detour.

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