Beginning July 15, some lanes along four blocks of University Boulevard will be closed for as many as 10 days to accommodate critical construction for the UAB District Steam System project.
Senior Project Manager Jerry Corvin says the two westbound lanes will be redirected to one lane on the south side of University between 14th and 18th streets beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, July 15. Traffic heading east on University also will be tapered to one lane for approximately four blocks.
Construction crews will install steam supply and condensate piping beneath University Boulevard to connect two steam vaults under construction next to the Campus Recreation Center and on the north side of Parking Lot 5A.
The traffic plan was approved by the Alabama Department of Transportation. UAB Police Department personnel will be stationed at the west and east ends of the project 24 hours a day for the duration of the work to aid traffic flow.
Russo Corporation has contracted to complete the piping installation and connection within 10 days. Russo will work two 12-hour shifts for the duration of the effort. Extra equipment, including lights, pumps, welding equipment and additional crews and backups, will be on standby in the event of a major rain or other unforeseen event.
“We have to get this done; it’s imperative. We hope to get the piping in with as minimal disruption as possible before school starts,” Corvin says.
Once construction across the westbound lanes is completed, traffic flow will be switched to permit work beneath the eastbound lanes.
Corvin says the construction will bring with it some inconveniences for the 10-day period. Drivers going to Children’s Hospital are encouraged to use the entrance on Seventh Avenue, for example; drivers traveling east on University will not be able to use the Children’s Hospital parking deck entrance for most of the 10-day construction period.
Sidewalk traffic also will be affected. The north sidewalk will be closed initially to correspond with the construction work, and the south sidewalk will remain open; it will reverse when work begins on the west bound lanes of University.
“As always, we just ask that everyone be patient,” Corvin says. “We know this will affect many people, but we hope to wrap things up with this quickly.”
Project on schedule
The construction is made necessary by Alabama Power Company’s plan to shut down its existing steam plant in 2013.
The new distribution network will replace the existing steam system and construction of a new condensate-return system will provide high-quality steam service to the campus, research and medical center facilities, including the VA Hospital, Callahan Eye Hospital and Southern Research Institute, when Alabama Power discontinues its steam operation in February 2013. The new condensate-recovery system will result in energy savings and reduction of domestic water consumption, which supports UAB’s Green Policy.
Active construction for the $69 million project began in early May and is expected to be completed in October 2012. The new plant and systems then will go through a period of commissioning and reliability testing and be brought completely online in February 2013.
Corvin says the project is on schedule and “going very well,” especially in the high-profile campus areas.
The construction of the steam vaults between Bartow Arena and Campbell Hall is nearing completion. The two vaults there have been excavated and concrete has been poured for the walls.
Concrete also has been placed for the vault under construction in Parking Lot 5A between the Hill University Center and Volker Hall. Work on the Rec Center side of University Boulevard has been a little more problematic; workers encountered shallow and dense stone that they are navigating through. “Issues like that are very typical in construction,” Corvin says.
More work will begin within the next three weeks. Corvin expects to issue a notice to proceed to Brice Building Company on the North Loop construction phase by July 15.
Stone Building Company is expected to begin construction on the steam-generation plant at the end of July. The plant will be located at the corner of Sixth Avenue South and 13th Street.