Access road near Lake Hall is closed for maintenance

Jennifer Mussig

The new access road to the M.A.C. Center was closed yesterday morning and will remain closed for two or three days, said Robert Misbrener, associate director of maintenance.

The esplanade in front of Lake Hall rests near the underground tunnel, and the road is showing signs of settling, said Robert Nation, Kent State Police Lieutenant. Nation and two other officers were parked along the access road while barricades were being placed to prevent vehicle traffic from driving over the tunnel.

The tunnel is used to run steam, power and fiber optics around the campus, said Tom Euclide, director of architecture and engineering.

Maintenance noticed visible cracks in the walls of the tunnel as well as spalling, meaning the face of the concrete is cracking off, Euclide said. A portion of the esplanade above the tunnel is closed off to pedestrians and vehicles as a precaution. There is no eminent danger, he added.

Once a month, maintenance runs a series of checks, and no problems with the tunnel were found last month, Misbrener said. The tunnel is barricaded at the area of concern. Heavy, steel-reinforcing bars support the tunnel. However, the Office of the University Architect isn’t taking any chances and is contacting shoring contractors and structural engineers to assess the damage, Misbrener said.

Structural engineers were in the tunnel yesterday afternoon evaluating possible structural problems, Euclide said. Posts will be put in to shore, or reinforce, the walls of the tunnel. There is a possibility that part of the esplanade will have to be removed to fix the roof of the tunnel, but if that happens, it won’t be done until summer, he said.

The road is settling, Misbrener said, because of several factors. Salting the area heavily during the winter, the length of time the tunnel has been in place and heavy equipment driving over the tunnel during the esplanade and Bowman Hall construction have all contributed to the road’s condition.

The access road to the M.A.C. Center parking lot was finished at the end of the previous summer. It is part of the second phase of the university esplanade, which also extended a walkway from Bowman to the west end of the Student Center.

The road closing mainly affects the M.A.C. Center because visiting teams need to be dropped off behind the Student Center on Midway Drive instead of in front of the M.A.C. Center, Misbrener said.

Contact buildings and grounds reporter Jennifer Mussig at [email protected].