By MacKenzie Brady
Construction on a campus steam line is well underway as most of Washington College’s students and faculty are currently off campus.
While most are not on campus to see the construction, those driving down West Campus Ave. can catch glimpses of the fenced off area, some of the construction equipment, and piles of fresh dirt around the Rebecca Corbin Loree Career Center and Goldstein Hall.
Construction on the steam line repair began near the end of May and is set to continue through October.
The existing steam line, which has a typical life expectancy of 40 to 50 years, was installed 60 years ago.
“We were on borrowed time with what we had there,” Kelley Wallace, public and media relations director, said.
“If that were to fail, the result would be a loss of heat and hot water,” she said.
The steam line affects 16 buildings on campus, including several residence halls, the Eugene B. Casey Swim Center, and the Johnson Fitness Center.
“It is a critical infrastructure project,” Wallace said.
The steam line itself is a little over 1,000 feet, running from the boiler house to the back of the Clifton M. Miller Library.
When a steam line functions properly, it pumps steam into the line, cooling it. This creates condensation which goes back to the boiler plant. The boiler plant then uses the water to function, providing heat and hot water for those buildings connected to the line.
“Because of the age of the existing line, there was little to no condensation feeding back, so we were incurring additional costs to then have to bring in and supply what is called ‘make up water,’” Wallace said.
“Getting the new line in — which will function very efficiently and properly — we will not need to pump in that water as an additional component of how that thing is running,” she said.
Not only was the steam line lacking in condensation production, but it was also leaking, which impacted the surrounding environment, killing nearby trees and grass.
Similar construction took place on the portion of a steam line between the John S. Toll Science Center and Rebecca Corbin Loree Career Center last year.
According to Vic Costa, assistant director of facilities, last year’s project “replaced a failed line from the plan to Toll and Dunning-Decker.”
“It was the same type of work, just a different section of the total system,” Costa said.
According to Costa, other steam line projects will be needed in the future to maintain the system. The full scope of those projects is currently under consideration.
Featured Photo caption: Construction on a steam line near the Rebecca Corbin Loree Career Center began in May. The steam line regulates heat and hot water for 16 buildings on campus. Photo by Mark Cooley.