While it will miss the initial projected completion by the end of October, the reconstruction and repair of the tunnel system beneath the Oval is set to be completed Nov. 15.
Bryceson Nunley, program manager for ENGIE Services and the head of the reconstruction, said the project was an “overwhelming success” despite missing its “aggressive” projected completion date of late October.
Nunley said the initial timeline was an ambitious goal delayed by the complexity of the project and the constraints that came from working at an unconventional construction site.
“We’re not on a construction site in the middle of nowhere able to do whatever we want. There are students and faculty we have to be mindful of,” Nunley said.
This project that started in early April aimed to restore the 3,000 feet of aging tunnels under the Oval, left untouched for decades.
In the remaining weeks of the project, students and faculty can expect to see fencing, but it will be reduced while the project nears completion. All walkways are set to be clear by mid-November, Nunley said.
Now that the underground tunnels will be operational and safe to work in, Ohio State is prepared for faster and more convenient future construction, Nunley said. He believes future large-scale construction on the Oval is unlikely.
“In the next 50 years, you shouldn’t see anyone working on the Oval,” Nunley said.
Even with the success of this project, Nunley said he understands what a headache this project has been for many students and faculty.
“We have to always think about how we are impacting the students and how we are impacting the faculty,” he said.
Dan Hedman, an Ohio State spokesman, also commented on the success and timeliness of the project.
“Even with the aggressive schedule, the project completed heating restoration to nearby buildings one month prior to the traditional start of the heating season,” Hedman said in an email.
As a result of this project, Hedman said there will be a clearer path for steam to travel through the tunnels. This steam is responsible for providing heat to classroom buildings.
However, Hedman said that there will be fencing that remains in the Oval even after the reconstruction is completed. This fencing is a result of frequent construction vehicle traffic that caused damage to portions of grass that must be replanted.
This fencing will not block or interfere with any walkways across the Oval, Hedman said.
“This temporary fencing and post-and-rope will likely remain in place into the spring,” Hedman said in an email.
Even so, ENGIE Services, beginning its 50-year contract with Ohio State, is pleased with the status of the project and its upcoming completion. It is excited about future construction projects with the university, Nunley said.