MORGANTOWN, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Safer sidewalks, roof repairs and updated infrastructure to improve heating and cooling are among more than 80 projects West Virginia University (WVU) is tackling in Morgantown, Keyser and Beckley with nearly $47 million in state funding, according to WVU.
“But with 518 buildings across the WVU System and 245 on the Morgantown Campus alone, we do not have the resources to take care of all of our maintenance.”
Travis Mollohan, associate vice president of Government Relations and Collaboration, said that’s where the recent state investment through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to address deferred maintenance needs is making a difference at WVU.
More than $10 million of the WVHEPC funding for WVU is dedicated to life safety projects to create a safer environment in the event of a fire or other emergency.
“This investment, plus the $50 million boostwe received last year supporting our effortsto attain National Cancer Institute designation, illustrate impactful additional monies the Legislature and the Governor have invested in WVU since 2018,” Mollohan said.
Bridging the gap
The pedestrian bridge at the main entrance of the Engineering Sciences Building on Morgantown’s Evansdale Campus is original to the building and was constructed in 1960.
State legislators toured the site during interim meetings in 2022 and saw the steel support beams and concrete deck have decayed over the years and corroded from weather and aging.
In 2021, a structural evaluation report recommended replacing the entire bridge.
A new bridge with an estimated cost of $1 million has been designed and will be put out for bid this spring with targeted completion in November.
An additional benefit, thanks to the redesign, will provide the building with an ADA ramp, while the original pedestrian bridge only included stairs.
Full steam ahead
Most of the buildings on the Morgantown Campus are heated by steam that is distributed through a network of underground steam tunnels — some are constructed of brick masonry and have served the University for more than 80 years.
The steam tunnels include steam piping, medium voltage electrical cables and telecommunication lines, and in some areas, the roof of the tunnel also serves as a campus sidewalk.
A $4.8 million project will remove asbestos pipe insulation and replace it with new product; install new expansion joints in steam piping; replace sections of steam piping; install new steam pipe supports and racks from below, in lieu of ceiling support; install new lighting; cable tray; repair concrete spalling; repair concrete tunnel lids; and improve tunnel ventilation, if possible.
“The steam tunnels are a critical artery on the Morgantown Campus but also take continual upkeep and maintenance due to their age,” Svehlik said. “Some portions of the tunnels have experienced concrete degradation, creating unsafe conditions.”
Due to a recent breakdown in the insulation covering steam lines near Martin Hall, extensive repairs were necessary and included replacing the path of the line and the sidewalk and repaving the parking lot behind Martin Hall, the oldest building on the Morgantown Campus.
Protecting and preserving history
Purinton House, originally built in 1904 as the University President’s house, is one of several Morgantown Campus buildings included on the National Register of Historic Places.
The front porch and roof of the building require repairs and a comprehensive exterior restoration.
There is also a structural concern with the third-floor upper portico which is supported by two large columns. Due to safety concerns, the front entrance and porch have been blocked off since June 2023.
Temporary shoring for the front porch roof has been installed. Due to its status on the NRHP, planned renovations estimated at $1.4 million must maintain its historic appearance.
Roof repair and replacement is a continual cycle. Most roof systems have a service life of 20 to 30 years, and WVU typically extends the life as long as possible before full replacement.
The WVHEPC deferred maintenance grant includes money for more than 15 campus roof projects in Morgantown, Keyser and Beckley.
“Fixing the roof of the Charles C. Wise Library in Morgantown was essential to protecting unique historic collections that are important to West Virginia and regional heritage and not available anywhere else in the world,” Svehlik said.
“This challenging project cost approximately $708,000 but will protect the valuable contents of Wise Library for years to come.”
Nursed back to health
Built in 1914, Davis Hall is a central building at WVU Potomac State College but has accumulated the highest level of deferred maintenance of any asset on the Keyser Campus.
Approximately $7.8 million will address critical areas of the building, life safety, infrastructure, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.
Asbestos abatement will also be required prior to making some of the repairs.
While addressing the deferred maintenance in this building, PSC will convert Davis Hall from its original design as a residence hall to serve as the future home of the nursingprogram.
When a stone on the second story of Carter Hall at the WVU Institute of Technology fell off just over an exit door while school was out of session, the area was blocked off and repaired.
The project included power washing, cleaning the entire North and South façades, repairing and replacing the damaged stone and grout, checking the seals around the windows and putting a sealer on the stone.
A second phase of the Beckley Campus project is set for the East and West sides this summer.
The Carter Hall emergency step railings needed repaired or replaced, and the stairs were starting to sink and pull away from the building and the concrete was cracking with underground issues.
The area was repaired by tearing out the concrete pad and sidewalks, fixing the underground issues and installing new powder-coated aluminum stairs.
An estimated $2.4 million has been designated to fund these projects