Four months ago, UC Berkeley engineers and administrators — fearing that excessive weight could cause damage to the garage below — refused to allow any vehicle larger than a golf cart drive across the Lower Sproul Plaza.
Monday night, approximately 1,500 Greek-curious students — whose combined weight far outstrips that of a laden golf cart — reveled on that same plaza at the annual Greek carnival.
While holding events on the plaza that attract large volumes of students — like the carnival and April’s Holi festival — may seem counterintuitive and in direct opposition to the point of the weight restrictions, Christine Shaff, communications director of the campus’ Facilities Services Department said that big cranes are more of a concern than big crowds.
Shaff added that if weight was dispersed to around seven pounds per square foot — the approximate pressure a student would put on the plaza — versus 2,200 pounds per square foot — the stress a piece of heavy equipment would create — significantly less, if any damage at all would be inflicted on the plaza. The strength of the plaza is not a safety issue for groups gathering on the plaza, she said.
UCPD spokesperson Lt. Marc DeCoulode said that he would also speculate that weight concerns would be raised mainly as a matter of object density.
The April memo was meant mostly as a precaution for keeping vehicles off of the area during the renovation in order to prevent structural damage and cracks to the waterproofing in the garage’s ceiling.
“It’s really not as dramatic as one might imagine,” she said. “It’s more subtle, but still important.”
Shaff said that in order for large vehicles such as forklifts and trucks to be used on the plaza, additional strengthening of the garage will first have to take place.