Edwards Stadium to close tunnel for construction amid safety concerns

Amy Shen/Staff

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Edwards Stadium will be closing its west tunnel starting next week to undergo minor construction, amid safety concerns over the structure’s poor seismic rating and concrete falling from its ceiling.

The track itself, along with the rest of the stadium, will continue to be open during its usual hours, but according to campus Real Estate Division spokesperson Christine Shaff, access to the west tunnel is expected to be restricted for about five weeks while construction workers install a safety net to catch falling rubble.

In July 2015, 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 Edwards Stadium a “poor” seismic rating.

Campus Vice Chancellor for Real Estate Bob Lalanne, in a letter to the editor published by The Daily Californian, said that because Edwards Track is not an academic building, it is an unlikely candidate for seismic funding from the state.

The state’s disinvestment in the university, resulting in little or no funding for capital improvements on campus, has slowed our progress on retrofits,” Lalanne said, “but we continue to look for opportunities and alternate fund sources.”

Despite the conditions at the stadium, multiple facilities and campus recreational sports workers said they had not been made aware of the conditions of the stadium or its poor seismic rating. Campus gardener Hank Chapot said he came in to work Monday and was told the grounds department had to be out by Thursday along with all its equipment, which included vehicles, machinery and personal items.

Chapot added that he was aware of the problems with the stadium for a number of months and had seen concrete falling from the ceilings and reported it to the administration, but he was dissatisfied with the response. He cited an op-ed he wrote for the Daily Cal following an article about dangerous conditions at the stadium as part of the reason behind the recent campus decision to close the west tunnel for construction.

“When I’m not getting action out of management I drop a dime on them,” Chapot said, adding that he took similar action to get campus to respond to concerns over people partying in Grizzly Peak. “I got tired of waiting to get hit on the head by concrete.”

Regarding the poor seismic rating, Shaff said there were plans for campus to bring in engineers to confirm the rating and provide suggestions to how the structure might be upgraded but that it would be a longterm project. She added that campus had taken steps to remove loose concrete from the ceiling and pillars and pick up the debris.

Haruka Senju is an assistant news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @haruka_senju