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Neil Avenue construction set to be completed 2 months late, $800K over budget


The portion of the tunnel replacement project that stretches along Neil Avenue from 17th Avenue to Ives Drive has an estimated completion date of early December.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

The construction on Neil Avenue in the Academic Core North area is set to be completed more than two months after its original end date and will finish about $800,000 over budget, an Ohio State spokeswoman for Administration and Planning said.

The construction site that stretches along Neil Avenue from 17th Avenue to Ives Drive is estimated to be completed by early December rather than its initial completion date of September due to necessary additional work encountered after the project began in summer 2013. The entire tunnel replacement project began in the summer of 2012, spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc said in an email.

Additional maintenance issues were encountered after construction began on the Neil Avenue stretch of the tunnel replacement project due to the project being underground, Komlanc said.

The additional work discovered included undiscovered maintenance issues with tunnels such as problems with the tunnel floor that required a redesign of the condensate line alignment, natural gas line alignment changes and a need to relocate the water main to McCracken Power Plant, Komlanc said.

She added that the additional work raised the original budget to $4.5 million from $3.7 million.

The unfinished construction site is part of a larger project that began Summer 2012 that includes work such as repairing the deteriorated tops of tunnels, removing abandoned utilities and enhancing the structural integrity of the tunnels, which house the heating system steam and hot water pipes between the McCracken Power Plant and various campus buildings, Komlanc said.

Despite the completion delay, Komlanc said workers are laboring around the clock to finish the project.

“The contractor has been working six days a week and will work seven days a week beginning this week as there is no home football game,” Komlanc said. “In (addition) to ensuring that all necessary work is completed, we also work very hard to maintain pedestrian traffic through the area because it is such a highly utilized corridor.”

Kati Walker, a Ph.D. student in mechanical systems engineering who does research in Baker Systems Engineering, said the construction is mostly “just kind of annoying.”

“The noise isn’t all that concerning — it’s the fences. ‘How do you get out of the building?’ is always kind of an exciting puzzle,” Walker said.

Walker also joked about the inconvenience of the fences.

“I have this fear that I’m going to walk outside and the whole building is going to be surrounded by construction fences,” she said.

Taylor Murphy, a Ph.D. student in industrial systems engineering who also does research in Baker Systems, said he’s gotten used to the construction.

“I don’t generally notice the noise, but it has been going on for so long that I don’t recognize it anymore. It could be that it’s not that loud, given the thickness of this building,” he said.

Paige Riggs, a third-year in special education, said she doesn’t mind that the project is taking longer than expected.

“If it takes longer to fix everything, I guess it’s better to do it now than later,” Riggs said. “I’d say it’s an eyesore, but it’s a necessary one.”

Even though the Neil Avenue stretch of the tunnel top construction project is currently the last phase of the project that has been bid for construction, Komlanc said OSU might extend the project to other areas of campus in the spring.

The tunnels being maintained during this project connect many campus buildings, generally those between 12th and 19th avenues, Komlanc said. The tunnels are mainly used for OSU’s utility and maintenance crews who operate, maintain and ensure proper utility performance.

This article has been revised to reflect the following corrections:

Correction: Oct. 4, 2013

An earlier version of this article used the female pronoun “she” for Taylor Murphy, when in fact, he is a male.

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