PHOTOS BY SAM ZARKY
The many Colorado College students that frequent the 7/11 on the corner of N. Cache La Poudre Ave. and N. Nevada Ave. are sure to have noticed the extensive construction work being done just southeast of campus.
The project, which has been active since late last year, is focused on replacing the street’s 12-inch and 16-inch subterranean steel lines with flexible PVC.
The project started near N. El Paso Street, some seven blocks east of campus, after a break in the lines caused confusion for the city’s largest utility management company, Colorado Springs Utilities. The update should reduce maintenance and repair costs by updating the antiquated steel lines with modern piping.
As explained by Steve Payne, the Strategic Account Manager for Colorado Springs Utilities, the steel lines beneath N. Cache La Poudre had been put in many years ago, resulting in a poor “history of connection information” throughout the surrounding housing area and portions of Colorado College’s Campus.
“The challenges we had to face with these two lines,” Payne said, “was that each time there was a line break, we didn’t know for sure what residences and what businesses were on each of the lines.”
The final stage of the project, which began earlier this year in July, is nearly complete and will be finalized with after the street is repaved. However, the completion of this project, which is estimated to have cost CSU around $1.4 million, has been slowed by the forgotten existence of an alleyway that predated the dedication of Donald E. Autrey Field, also known as Yampa.
According to Mark Ferguson, Colorado College’s Campus Energy Manager, the alleyway that now rests below Autrey Field contains all the remnants of an old, outdated sewage system. This obstacle proved unavoidable and postponed the completion of the construction when it collapsed, forcing CSU workers to temporarily shift their attention to removal rather than replacement.
Complications like the collapsed sewer have forced CSU to implement an incremental progression strategy that involves shutting off the valves connected to individual sections of road to ensure that service still reaches the surrounding areas.
Due to the construction zone’s close proximity of the daycare on N. Nevada Ave., CSU has been partnering with Colorado College’s Senior Project Manager Rick Greene to ensure that the daycare can access water and other utilities until the construction concludes.
Even with this setback, Steve Payne is confident that the construction will be completed before the onset of the New Year. And, however unlikely, even “if weather interrupts, we will be done in the beginning of 2014.”
Construction and remodeling costs have been some of Colorado College’s largest expenses in recent years and have caused tuition spikes at other colleges. Luckily for students young enough to have been effected by today’s construction costs, this particular pipe replacement has been processed free of charge.
The construction was undertaken at CSU’s initiative and thus has required no funding from Colorado College to supplement CSU’s costs.
While this is good news for juniors and seniors who won’t need to pay for the replacement of N. Cache La Poudre’s steel pipes, younger students should be wary that the recent spike in construction is a sign of things to come.
Greene confirmed that the current pipe replacements and valve removals aren’t “costing CC a penny,” but warned that the existence of faulty valves around campus points to possible faults within Colorado College’s own underground piping systems.
With over 3,000 feet of both new 12-inch and 16-inch pipes being replaced just south of campus, there is reason to fear that the next large construction job could be reflected in future student bills.
Morgan Wack, City Editor