by Joe King
While winter still has campus in its icy grip, plans are already being finalized for the installation of chilled water lines this spring and summer.
Current plans call for work on that project to begin as soon as the ground thaws – probably in early April, says Jeff Daurer, director of capital budgeting and planning. The project will complete the installation of a chilled water piping system around the East Campus. That network of pipes ultimately will allow the university to replace aging chiller equipment in that area and begin cooling buildings with chilled water, which is more efficient and environmentally friendly.
The project will create some disruptions for some on campus, beginning with those who park in Lot 10 on the east side of Faraday Hall. That lot will be closed starting April 1 and will be used as a staging area for construction equipment and supplies. The lot will be reconstructed and reopened in the fall.
Digging will begin just north of the parking lot, with pipe being laid along a path that runs west from Castle Drive to Normal Road along the north side of Faraday Hall, then between Faraday West and Davis Hall. A stub also will be run off of that line, running south along the east side of Faraday, under Watson Creek and across Lincoln Terrace to Montgomery Hall. All of that work is expected to be completed by the end of final exams May 15.
The end of the academic year also will mark the start of the summer construction season and will bring with it the closure of Normal Road from Davis Hall to Lucinda. In preparation for that work, Lot 8, on the west side of Davis Hall, will be closed starting May 1 and will not reopen until classes resume in late August.
Normal Road will remain closed throughout the summer as contractors dig up the street and install the chilled water lines. Plans call for the work to proceed in 100-foot increments, with each segment to be filled in with gravel as digging on the next segment begins. Areas not under construction will be open to foot traffic throughout the project, and at least one handicapped accessible crossing will always be maintained.
The Normal Road work will continue throughout the summer, but plans call for the street to be repaved and reopened by the time students return to campus in August.
The next leg of the project calls for the installation of pipes around Adams Hall, then under Lucinda and into the area around the Campus Life Building with work continuing into the fall.
“Obviously, this project is going to cause some major disruptions on campus, but it could have been worse,” says Daurer, explaining that plans originally had called for crews to attack Normal Road from the north and the south, and to also dig in the area around campus life this summer. Ultimately it was decided that such an approach would create too many traffic problems.
Also, construction on the chilled water plant, which originally was scheduled to begin this spring, is temporarily delayed while the Capital Development Board completes its review of the plans.
For a map of the project, and to find updates on progress once the work begins, consult www.niu.edu/chiller.