Several projects to result in detours, closures on NMSU campus this summer
The seniors have matriculated, the underclassmen have for the most part emptied the dormitories, and the unofficial start of summer is less than three weeks away. Don't expect New Mexico State University's Las Cruces campus to be quiet and easily accessible over the next three months, however.
With the bulk of the campus population away until mid- to late-August, NMSU's Office of Facilities and Services will begin - or continue - a series of ambitious projects that will result in many campus detours, as well as road and parking lot closures.
"We have some major projects that we want to begin in the summer, while most of the students and faculty are away," said Greg Walke, assistant director of facilities. "The nature of these jobs will require a great deal of underground maintenance and installation, and digging up streets and sidewalks will be necessary. Getting around campus may be a challenge at some points in the coming months, but it is important to remember that these short-term inconveniences will result in long-term growth and comfort."
Chief among the projects at hand is construction of a new chilled water system satellite plant and the necessary piping that goes with it. The increase in chilled water production capacity through the addition of a secondary plant assures that the university's air-conditioning needs will continue to be met in an efficient fashion as the campus continues to grow.
"We're probably over margin of comfort right now with the existing plant, as far as functional capacity," Walke said. "We're really pushing it to the limit, and with structures like the new bookstore, phase II of the Chamisa Village student housing complex and the Center for the Arts going up, we needed a new plant to accommodate the growing demand for the campus' cooling needs."
The new chilled water plant will be built near the campus natatorium and track, by Stewart Street and Breland Drive. As a result of the construction, the large parking lot on Stewart, between Breland and Williams Avenue, will be closed, starting around June 1.
In addition to plant construction, new, larger piping to transport the chilled water around campus needs to be installed. Using a phased process, streets will be closed at a rate of blocks at a time, as the roads and sidewalks will be dug up in order for the new piping to be laid.
"We need visitors to campus to understand that we're talking about more than a small ditch being dug," Walke said. "This project is going to require very wide, deep trenches to be dug, resulting in near-total removal of asphalt and concrete at the dig locations. We're going to have to put the displaced earth somewhere as well, so that may result in further blockages."
The area nearest the plant - Breland and Williams avenues, with Stewart Street in between - will bear the brunt of construction. Sections of each of those roads will be closed off at points over the summer, with one-lane or no access. That, in turn, will restrict parking in lots adjacent to those streets.
Another major project on the main campus involves replacement and repair of a 10-inch water main, stretching between Knox Hall and Corbett Center Student Union, resulting in trenching along pedestrian areas proximate to that area.
"A good deal of the water main replacement can be done utilizing the tunnels under campus, but there will be spots every few hundred feet in which sidewalk will be broken and holes dug to accommodate the new piping," Walke said. "Pedestrians and bicyclists will want to be aware of these cordoned off areas."
In addition, work will continue on adding two outer lanes to Arrowhead Drive, as well as all associated utilities, in preparation for the opening of the new Early College High School on campus in August. This also will require a new sewer main to be installed from around the Tortugas arroyo, along Sam Steel Way, following the acequia along University Avenue to Valley Drive, though this should have a minimal impact on traffic.
Existing building projects also will continue, to include the Barnes & Noble at NMSU bookstore, Center for the Arts, additions to the New Mexico Department of Agriculture and Coca-Cola buildings, phase II of the Chamisa Village student housing complex and a new soccer field.
As construction schedules are reviewed and finalized, details on road and parking lot closures will be released in advance.
More information on these projects soon will be posted on the NMSU OFS website at http://www.ofs.nmsu.edu/.
Written by Mark Cramer.