After a summer of long hours, sweltering heat, volatile precipitation and several periods of around-the-clock effort, the construction crews working at the University of Virginia on McCormick Road are nearing the finish line.
They’ve been working since Final Exercises in May on installing a new utility tunnel, just one of several big summer construction projects the University must finish before move-in begins Aug. 21.
Another big summer project that will surely be noticeable to returning students is the $1.27 million Alderman Road pedestrian path under construction by contractor Martin Horn – a pedestrian bridge that starts near the northeast corner of the Gooch-Dillard residence area, crosses a gulch and ends on Alderman Road at Courtenay House.
Tim Roland, Academic Division director of Facilities Planning and Construction, said the bridge will provide a more direct pedestrian access to and from the Gooch-Dillard dormitory area.
Other big improvements to first-year housing are in the final stages of construction as well. Aside from the continued renovation of bathrooms in Brown College, the second phase of a major renovation of Gooch-Dillard – an overhaul of the entire complex that includes an update of utilities systems, exterior repairs, interior finishes and consolidation of the dorm’s single rooms into doubles – is scheduled to conclude by move-in weekend. The balance of the changes at Gooch will be completed by May; Dillard will be completed by August 2017.
While the work is extensive, Roland is confident that all of the summer projects will be completed on time and traffic will be restored through all affected areas, including – most importantly – on McCormick Road.
“I’ve given them until 8 a.m. on Aug. 17,” Roland said. “The fences have to be gone, and the parents won’t even know we were there.”
Approved for a budget of up to $14 million, the University’s most extensive summer project is the McCormick Road Utilities Tunnel, a 1,000-foot walk-in tunnel running from Engineers Way to near the intersection with Alderman Road, being constructed by Faulconer Construction Co.
In preparation for the planned future renovations to the McCormick Road residences, Gilmer Hall and the Chemistry Building, the University determined that a new heating system was needed to replace the central steam system serving the buildings. The new utility tunnel will carry the piping for this new system, technically a “Medium Temperature Hot Water system.”
“It’s a high-volume project,” said Annette Cyphers, director of Facilities Planning and Construction. “It’s pretty amazing what the team has accomplished over a summer break.”
Cyphers said hot-water heating systems are more efficient than central steam systems and will eventually replace the steam system across the University.
The 8-foot-by-8-foot tunnel will contain two 18-inch water pipes, a supply pipe and a return pipe. The bottom of the tunnel is approximately 20 feet beneath the road to avoid interfering with existing utility pipes and systems. The project will also install new chilled water supply and return lines, which Roland said will be used to supply the McCormick dorms with air conditioning come renovation time.
“No more box-fans in the windows of McCormick dorms,” he said.
Facilities will also complete the $4.6 million renovation of Wilson Hall. Plans include full renewals of the first and second floors with a new handicap-accessible entrance at the first floor and increased utilization of natural light for interior spaces on the first and second floors. The renewal also includes new lighting, improved HVAC and building automation systems, a new sprinkler system and security access.