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New construction projects replace parts of campus

September 14, 2011
Work is currently being done to replace a steam chiller outside the south end of the Main Library. Work is expected to be completed in April 2012. Matt Radick/The State News
Work is currently being done to replace a steam chiller outside the south end of the Main Library. Work is expected to be completed in April 2012. Matt Radick/The State News —
Photo by Matt Radick | and Matt Radick The State News

Construction crews continue to toil below ground in a large area surrounding the MSU Main Library’s south entrance and parking lot, as they replace the building’s steam chiller cooling system, and more below-ground construction is expected at MSU in coming months.

Crews at the site have torn up large portions of ground at the library’s southern exterior. Now, a cavern-like hole that extends around the back of the building is being prepared for a large-scale chiller that will be installed over the next several months to cool the building.

Some of the library’s chillers — which are used to maintain specific temperatures for various library items — have become unusable in recent years, leading to the replacement, according to Board of Trustees documents.

The project is slated to finish in April 2012, university engineer Bob Nestle said.

The $8.6 million project first was approved at the Board of Trustees’ February meeting, said university engineer Bob Nestle.

The work hasn’t had much impact on day-to-day operations of the library, said Arlene Weismantel, the library’s assistant director for public services

“The only thing that’s been affected is we had to move the access ramp from the south entrance (of the library) to the north entrance,” she said.

The work outside the building hasn’t affected the study habits of some students.

Food industry management junior Kyle Fellows — who said he studies at the library two or three times a week — hasn’t been bothered by the construction noise.

“It hasn’t (affected my study habits),” he said while writing a paper on the building’s first floor.

The steam chiller replacement at the library is the latest in a line of planned below-ground improvements to portions of MSU’s infrastructure.

Last Friday, the Board of Trustees approved an authorization to plan for the replacement of piping in a series of steam distribution tunnels at two campus locations.

Large areas of the steam distribution system running under the ground from Eustace-Cole Hall to Mason Hall, and between Beal Street and East Circle Drive, will be replaced next summer, Nestle said.

Both projects must pass an “authorization to proceed” vote by the board.

The preliminary project estimate for the replacement along West Circle Drive is set at about $18.5 million, according to board documents.

Work between Mason Hall and Eustace-Cole Hall is expected to cost about $1.7 million.

The work is being done out of necessity, Nestle added.

“The primary issue on north campus is there are a bunch of steam tunnels up there that are approximately 100 years old,” he said. “The piping and pipe supports in the tunnels are in need of upgrades.”

An outside contractor will be brought in to conduct the replacement. Some work at both sites could cause “significant traffic control problems” as roads might need to be closed to complete them, Nestle said.

The tunnels have been crumbling for quite some time, said Fred Poston, the university’s vice president for finance and operations, at Friday’s Board of Trustees’ meeting.

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“I think we got our money’s worth out of them,” he told the board.

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