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The University is currently removing asbestos insulation  from the steam tunnels that run under campus. The construction won’t be completed until March 2015, said Bill Lowery, the cogeneration systems manager. There will also be additional vents added to the tunnels as well as improvements to the supporting structure for underground pipes. 

“It is one of those unfortunate realities that we all live with, that to be able to provide the level of service that we do on this campus and the quality environment for a great education, we must occasionally disturb areas to maintain and care for them,” Lowery said in an email.

The paths to some buildings have been blocked because temporary fencing has been placed around the construction, but there are signs indicating detours. Lowery stressed all buildings are still open.

“This project is not preventing access to any campus buildings,” he said. “The project does have some sidewalk and building access point detours that are in place for the safety of the students, the public and for our construction team, but all facilities will remain accessible for use.”

The construction will cost the University nearly $5 million, according to a document from Susan Hudson, a spokeswoman for the University. 

Lowery said the asbestos insulation has been in the steam tunnels since their construction in the early 1940s.

Some students aren’t excited about the prospect of a semester and a half of construction, but realize it is something the University had to do.

“I know a lot of old stuff was built with asbestos before they knew the health effects, but, I mean, it is a shame it has been there as long as it has,” junior Chichi Orji said. “You know as long as they’re getting rid of it, it’s fine.”

Freshman David Doochin agreed, saying it is surprising that the University is addressing it now, but the construction is helping more than hurting.

“I don’t really think it is a huge bother, but it certainly isn’t aesthetically pleasing...I would say it is necessary,” he said.

Lowery said the construction has been in the works for ten years, and it is a part of a larger campus master plan.

“The timing for construction was a matter of coordination with other campus activities and needs and allocation of funding,” he said.

Freshman Annie Konzelman said the construction could have an effect on potential student tours.

“I saw (the construction), and I was a little bit disappointed that it didn’t look as beautiful as when I came to visit,” she said.

Freshman Madeleine Shafto said it will take some adjusting to, but it wouldn’t have made a difference to her if the construction were there when she toured the campus.

“It wouldn’t have affected my decision, because it is necessary, so, at some point, these things are going to have to happen,” she said.

Orji said, personally, he would not have taken the construction too seriously if he were a prospective student visiting campus, but he understands the issue.

“I know a lot of people would see that and be just completely taken back by that,” he said.

Lowery acknowledged the situation is not ideal, but the amount of construction on campus is actually much lower than a few years ago.

“This campus is well over 200 years old. It takes a lot of TLC to provide the wonderful institution that you see before you today and for those that came before and those that will follow.”

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