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Construction starts on water system

John Tierney | Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Construction began Monday on the chilled water system between the Morris Inn and the former Notre Dame Post Office in preparation for the construction of the new Law School this summer, said University Utilities Director Paul Kempf.

Preliminary utility work is “typically required” before actual construction on a project begins, Kempf said in an e-mail Monday. In this case, the work is necessary because the chilled water system for the area surrounding the Law School conflicts with the planned construction and must be relocated.

“Further utility construction work will likely also occur prior to the start of the building construction later this year,” he said.

The system, which operates primarily from April until November, is responsible for delivering chilled water from the central location at the Utilities Complex to specific points on campus, Kempf said. Because the Law School construction is scheduled to begin in the summer – when the chilled water system is needed – the system must be relocated prior to the start of the season.

The construction should not impact students in a significant way, although it will close some pedestrian walkways east of the old post office. Kempf said efforts will be made to minimize the disruption.

This new construction project is not expected to create problems similar to the gas leak that occurred two weeks ago near the Hesburgh Library when a gas main was struck during underground digging.

Kempf said the Utilities Department is not taking additional precautions to prevent another gas leak, but said the University is a member of the Indiana Underground Utilities Plant Protection Services and enforces rules that go above and beyond their specifications.

The gas main puncture, Kempf said, was caused by a failure to mark the facilities stage of construction.

“Unfortunately this does happen, but considering the amount of underground activity on campus we have few such problems,” Kempf said.

The University requires all parties that intend to excavate on campus to obtain a permit. Parties that maintain underground facilities are additionally required to mark their facilities in the event of excavation, he said.

This campus construction is scheduled to be completed by early April, before the chilled water season. Kempf said he does not anticipate any significant issues with the construction, unless a cold spell hits.