Surprised students returned to Tech after Spring Break to discover that one of Tech’s main thoroughfares, Skiles Walkway, had become completely blocked off by construction.
The construction next to the library is for the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons (CULC), with the majority of the work focused on preparing the building’s utilities.
According to John DuConge, CULC project manager, the expansion onto Skiles Walkway over the break was an extension of this utilities work, and the goal was to finish before students returned to campus.
However, three days of rain early into the break delayed the utility work. In addition, previous utility lines that had not been identified and an unexpectedly high amount of stone was found in the ground, further delaying the construction efforts.
“You look through the archives as well as you can, but sometimes there are [utilities] that do not appear on any of the documents,” DuConge said.
In a meeting on Wednesday, the contractors for the construction project set April 4 as their target completion date. However, DuConge added that this date was dependent on several factors, including cooperation from the weather.
“When it rains, the rain creates mud, and that makes digging [difficult] for the heavy equipment. Even after the rain has stopped, the ground still needs time to dry before digging can begin again,” DuConge said. If the weather does turn to rain or more unexpected debris is found at the site, DuConge expects further delays in the construction.
Skiles Walkway will remain blocked off until the construction is completed, forcing pedestrians to find alternate ways around the construction.
“You got up to the top [of Skiles Walkway] with every expectation for where to go, and there it is, block off,” said James Sheppard, fifth-year PTFE major.
Many students have detoured around the construction by walking through the parking lot behind the Skiles building.
“When I saw the construction blocking [Skiles Walkway], I just said ‘that’s Tech.’ You just go with the flow,” said Andrew Nemchik, first-year CS major.
According to DuConge, the contractor is expected to restart work on the Skiles Walkway beginning on Monday.
The construction for the CULC building has stretched out beyond the borders of the former library parking lot once before. Next to the Van Leer building, fences were erected that blocked pedestrians from walking from along the path next to the building. Students detoured through the building to get around the construction.
“I believe the Institute should have notified the students before they decided to block off [the walkway],” said Kristie Champlin, third-year PUBP major.