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Cause, cost of Ohio State water main break unknown

Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor

The water main break that flooded the basement of Park-Stradley Hall and left 2,000 students temporarily homeless remains unexplained more than six weeks after the break. The university has contracted an outside company to assess the problem, but there is no cost estimate for the repairs.

“The water main break at Park-Stradley Hall remains under investigation,” said Lindsay Komlanc, Administration and Planning spokeswoman at Ohio State.

The Park-Stradley evacuation was followed by an Oct. 27 water main break near Neil and 12th avenues that led to a water outage in Mack and Oxley halls that evening. Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said an 8-inch line broke, but a contractor was able to restore running water in the affected buildings by noon on Oct. 28.

The two breaks were unrelated incidents.

“The water main involved in the Park-Stradley Hall issue was a part of a much more complicated system than the one involved with this past weekend’s issue that impacted Mack and Oxley halls,” Komlanc said. “Ohio State’s technical experts are working on this and have also engaged an outside engineering firm to assist with the Park-Stradley investigation efforts.”

The outside firm, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., has worked with OSU in the past, performing damage assessments at the OSU-Wooster campus after a tornado hit on Sept. 16, 2010. The firm has also done work on Math Tower, Thompson Library and Knowlton Hall.

The university has not released a cost estimate for the repair work because “the cost of the repairs for the damage to Park-Stradley are still being determined and compiled,” Komlanc said.

OSU is still evaluating and testing equipment “to determine the best course of action for repair,” and “the university is working with insurance carriers to recover for the loss,” Komlanc said.

Komlanc did not have an exact date for when there might be a cost estimate.

While it is unknown at this time why the Park-Stradley break happened, some students said they aren’t too interested in knowing.

“I’m not really too concerned. They took care of it in a great way, so I wasn’t totally focused on that part of it,” said Monica Braun, a first-year in psychology and Park-Stradley resident.

However, Michael Gord, a second-year in biology living in Park-Stradley, expects a report.

“It was not fun to be out of the dorm and sleep on my friend’s floor, but I know that they’re not just gonna say, like, ‘You guys were screwed and that’s all that’s going to happen,'” Gord said.

The delay is preferred by Cameron Shirima, a first-year in health professions exploration and part of the Health Science Scholars learning community that meets in Park-Stradley.

“I’d rather know the results when they are actually ready, than giving them bits and pieces and find out they were false,” he said.

The cause of Oct. 27’s breakage was easily found.

“The failure point for the water main break that impacted Mack and Oxley halls was easily identifiable based on the pipe’s location, surroundings and condition,” Komlanc said. “Based on the type and location of the water line, the water main break that impacted Mack and Oxley halls Saturday night and Sunday morning is not the same type of installation and was unrelated to the Park-Stradley water main break.”

More than 2,000 students were evacuated from Baker and Park-Stradley halls as a result of the Sept. 16 water main break, and about 1,200 students from Park-Stradley Hall were forced to find temporary housing while the building was closed for three days. Accommodations were made for evacuees in the RPAC.

No students were evacuated from Mack or Oxley as a result of Saturday night’s water main break.  

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