UC Berkeley undergoes construction at multiple sites

Ethan Epstein/Staff

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Many locations across UC Berkeley are experiencing construction work, primarily to improve the campus’s telecommunications lines.

According to campus real estate spokesperson Christine Shaff, construction is being carried out to improve old telecommunications lines to provide better Internet access and streamline phone and data service on campus.

Places affected by construction include areas by Barrows Hall and the Campanile, as well as Moffitt Library.

Jamie Padilla, a construction worker on the Barrows Hall site, said that despite the plethora of caution tape and fences surrounding these construction sites, there are no safety concerns.

According to Padilla, the caution tape functions merely to keep the work quartered off so as not to interrupt the campus’s daily life.

“We do our best to let people know about the impact of construction by putting up signs at the job sites, by notifying people working or living nearby the sites … and putting information up on the website,” Shaff said. “We do as much outreach as we can.”

Shaff said that although the telecommunications lines project was delayed by the wet weather, it is expected to be completed by the middle of the semester.

In addition to affecting construction, the weather — along with higher rates of usage of heat — has led to large plumes of steam rising out of vents and sidewalks from underground pipes near areas such as Faculty Glade, Shaff said.

The pipes are part of UC Berkeley’s centralized heating system, carrying steam that is connected to a cogeneration plant near Evans Diamond to provide heat and hot water for the campus, Shaff said.

A steam pipe that broke near Haviland Hall caused steam and bubbling water to rise from cracked concrete, but Shaff noted that the cause of the leak is unknown. The concrete has since been fixed.

Shaff emphasized that the steam seen around campus is not related to construction work.

Most of the construction projects on campus are managed by the construction and design department within the campus’s real estate division, Shaff said.

According to Shaff, the campus — as a public institution — publicly bids its construction needs to bring in contractors, architects and others from external sources. Public bidding includes announcing the need for workers, accepting proposals and going through a public process to choose the companies to hire.

The plans are subjected to many environmental reviews, such as one from the California Environmental Quality Act.

Other significant projects include the renovations of the fourth and fifth floors of Moffitt Library into a 24-hour study space — which is to be finished next summer — and the construction of a new housing complex for first-year students on the corner of Bancroft Way and Dana Street.

Contact Ericka Shin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ericka_shin.