Campus working to address safety risks at Edwards Track

William Pan/Staff

Dear Editor,

I am writing to provide information about the condition of the Edwards Track bleachers, following an op-ed published in The Daily Californian on July 11.

There are two separate issues at the Edwards Track west bleachers, both of which the campus takes seriously and is addressing. The first concern is aging, water-damaged concrete in the tunnel under the west bleachers. As soon as the managers of our maintenance unit learned that pieces of concrete had fallen, they took action to address this safety risk. All the surfaces were inspected and efforts were made to remove any loose concrete. Netting to catch any pieces of concrete that may fall in the future has been ordered and will be installed starting the week of July 25. These actions predate any media coverage of the concerns raised about the condition of the concrete.

The second, separate matter raised by the author is of how the bleachers will withstand an earthquake. The structure is a candidate for seismic upgrades based on a 1997 evaluation that included all campus facilities. We have consulting engineers in the process of conducting a high-level analysis of the bleachers to confirm the rating and expect their report to include suggestions for how the building could be retrofitted. Because Edwards Track is not an academic building, it is unlikely to be a candidate for the small, intermittent seismic funding the campus currently receives from the state.

Improving seismic safety has been a longterm challenge for the campus. Since the comprehensive evaluation in 1997, the campus has retrofitted or replaced more than 75 percent of space identified as needing strengthening, totaling almost five million square feet. This work continues, for example, with the current construction of the Berkeley Way West building which will house units in Tolman Hall, which is then scheduled to be demolished.  The state’s disinvestment in the univesrity, resulting in little or no funding for capital improvements on campus, has slowed our progress on retrofits, but we continue to look for opportunities and alternate fund sources.

We are communicating with the staff and students who use the space at Edwards Track to keep them up to date of progress and information. If investigations reveal that changes are needed to the way the Edwards Track bleachers are used, we will make them. The campus is committed to the safety of all members of our community.

Bob Lalanne is the campus vice chancellor real estate.

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