Dangerous conditions at Edwards Stadium lead to safety concerns

Hank Chapot/Courtesy

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Concrete chunks fall from the ceiling and pillars of the west tunnel of Edwards Stadium — home to the campus soccer and track and field teams — adding to the already unsafe conditions established with the building’s poor seismic rating.

The pillars of the tunnel have deep cracks and chips, running along their sides. Concrete pieces, weighing about 3 to 5 pounds, have been falling from the ceiling and pillars for the past few years which, according to campus gardener Hank Chapot, could cause harm.

“It could kill you,” Chapot alleged.

The track is rented out by campus regularly to local high schools and track and field organizations and is open to members of the Cal Recreation Club, posing a risk to those beyond the ground’s department staff, according to Chapot. The tunnel is used for entry and access to the stadium, food services and restrooms.

Chapot expressed concern that filling up the bleachers, which lay on top of the tunnel, with hundreds of people could put a lot of weight on the structure and trigger even more cracking. He claimed that the reinforcement rods are rusting.

According to campus Real Estate Division spokesperson Christine Shaff, the campus is aware of the conditions at Edwards Stadium and has heard concerns about the falling concrete. She added that campus is working on the bleachers to prevent concrete from falling on the walkways.

“There is work that has happened to address the safety concerns,” Shaff said. “That happened immediately.”

The Seismic Action Plan for Facilities Enhancement and Renewal, or SAFER, program — which uses seismic ratings to establish standards for seismic rehabilitation projects and new construction on campus — gave the Edwards Stadium a “poor” seismic rating in July 2015.

A poor seismic rating applies to buildings that are expected to sustain “significant structural and nonstructural damage and/or result in falling hazards in a major seismic disturbance, representing appreciable life hazards,” according to the SAFER program. The program adds that buildings with poor ratings should be given high priority to improve seismic resistance.

Chapot said he alerted his supervisors and notified campus about his concern over the potential safety hazards. He said campus sent a worker about three to four weeks ago to “hammer at the unreinforced concrete pillars” and remove the spalling, but that the pillars still need to be reinforced.

“The university has made efforts to rebuild or reinforce some of the older buildings, and I think Edwards Track should be high priority,” Chapot said.

Shaff added that along with the immediate work being done, there is also a plan in progress to look into other issues with the structure.

Contact Shanzeh Khurram at [email protected].