Tunnel will protect new underground steamline

By Galvin Kennedy

After years of patching ruptured steamlines in the northeast quadrant of campus, “the time has come for a complete replacement of the system,” said John Harrod, director of physical plant projects.

Illinois Hydrolic Construction company won the bid to “replace what was a direct barried steamline with a tunnel that will contain the new one,” Harrod said.

“The former steamline was directly barried underground, absent of any tunnel, which does little to prevent the chemical activity in the ground from eating away the pipes,” he said.

Atique Ahmed, mechanical engineer of physical plant projects, said, “The old system, which was known as “Rick Well,” caused the university to lose a lot of steam and consequently a lot of money.”

“We have been in the process of constructing the tunnels since the spring semester ended. When the tunnels are completed, we will concurrently install the steamlines as we put the top on,” Harrod said.

About $2 million, which was appropriated from the state, is expected to go into the project, Harrod said, adding it is not a shared project with the city of DeKalb.

The proposed project-completion date is August 10.

NIU student Chris Mayer, who works at the front desk of the music library, said, “After parking my car, it is difficult to walk through the construction area because both of the sidewalks in front of the art building and on the west side of the music building are blocked, which limits our entrances.”

“Yes, there have been some inconveniences with the sidewalks out of service and the construction in the streets, but fortunatly it is at a time when our student and faculty population is reduced,” Harrod said.

The project will be affecting the steam distribution toward the art and music buildings, and from there “we will connect it to Andersons steamlines,” Harrod said.

Regarding the effects of the projects, he said, “This is one of those things where most people aren’t going to realize much has been done because the only time you acknowledge the steamlines are there is when it breaks down.”