Foot traffic on The Oval could soon multiply. Construction that will focus on the repairs and updates of underground tunnels is set to begin on Ohio State’s campus focal point next week, and heavy pedestrian impacts are anticipated, according to an email sent to staff by Jay Kasey, the university’s senior vice president of administration and planning.
This construction will affect students, staff and faculty walking through the pathways, and will last through October 2018.
“In early April, fencing will be erected on The Oval’s eastern portion near College Avenue,” Kasey said in the email. “Following spring commencement, additional fencing will be added across the middle portion of The Oval.”
Pedestrian access to these areas of The Oval will be limited, he said, and signs will be spread throughout the walkway to direct alternative routes.
In addition to updating The Oval tunnels, Ohio State Energy Partners will replace 3,000 feet of aging utilities across the green space, said Dan Hedman, a spokesman for the Office of Administration and Planning.
“[This] is going to help those buildings around The Oval to have a more reliable and long-term heating and hot water,” Hedman said.
No building will undergo active construction, but some will require heating system updates. These updated will lead to the isolation of heating systems in Bricker Hall, Denney Hall, Derby Hall, Faculty Club, Orton Hall, Mendenhall Laboratory, Hagerty Hall, Hayes Hall, Hopkins Hall, Hughes Hall, Page Hall, Sullivant Hall and the Wexner Center for the Arts complex.
Gregg Garbesi, managing director for EngieServices, said the energy company will lead the heating project, which will run through October.
“Because the anchors for the steam piping are the main driver for the project, the university has directed [ENGIE] to execute the whole project,” Garbessi said.
The total project budget is $14.6 million, Hedman said. Ohio State will fund $3.8 million of that total.
“The portion of dollars that Ohio State is contributing will go to actually repairing the tunnels themselves,” Hedman said.
After Spring Commencement, the construction impact will heighten, Hedman said.
“The university and Engie, together, decided they want to make this as small of an impact as possible during the traditional academic year. We do not want to take up the majority of The Oval during the final semester for some of those seniors,” he said.
In one of the biggest financial deals in university history, Ohio State transitioned the management of its utilities service operations to OSEP in July 2017, handing over the responsibility to update the campus’s energy management and decrease its energy consumption.
The location for construction is certainly not the most convenient place to be working, Garbesi said, adding that the project needs to be done sooner rather than later.
“When we came on campus and we began to assess the infrastructure, we developed a priority list of what needed to be looked at first. [The utility repairs] came to the top of the list,” Garbesi said.
Hedman said multiple phases of fencing will be required on The Oval while this work occurs. In April, fencing will be limited to the eastern portion of The Oval with additional fencing being added after Spring Commencement.
“The heaviest work will take place during the summer and into the fall in order to minimize impacts this spring,” Hedman said. “We really tried to minimize the impacts as much as possible, and that is why the bigger impacts will not occur until after graduation.”