SSC GROUNDS-HEQ DM-19 CONCRETE PROJECT

 

The Grounds Department (SSC), specifically HEQ (Heavy Equipment), was tasked with identifying, prioritizing, and executing the demolition and repair of thousands of square feet of concrete on the Texas A&M Campus, in College Station.  This ‘pot of money’ was dropped in HEQ’s lap in February, of this year, with an expiration date of August 31, this year.  DM money, or Deferred Maintenance, is money intended to go toward projects that don’t typically fall under standard “contract” maintenance, but still need to be addressed on an intermittent schedule.  
The target on this project was degraded or deteriorating concrete with emphasis on safety, drainage, and ADA issues.  These funds are meant to be used for pedestrian circulation routes, and are not intended to fund transportation roads and parking issues. Grade separations at concrete joints, due to heaving or settling, make up most of the trip hazards.  The dowels between two panels of concrete can rust out with age, and as soils move due to shrinking and swelling, the concrete will separate and cause trip hazards.  Sometimes structural cracking within the concrete panels will happen, causing the same issue.  
Another common safety issue is a result of the finish on some of the older, outdated concrete.  The finish referred to as “Exposed Aggregate,” tends to become slippery when wet.  That is because the aggregate used in the concrete is a smooth and rounded river rock, that is washed when it is laid, to expose that rock on the surface.  When water is added, that rock becomes slick, and becomes a slip hazard.  Because the look is also dated, whenever the opportunity presented itself, we replaced that exposed aggregate with standard “broom finish” concrete.  Ultimately, this will help unify the look of most of the pavements on campus.
When trying to identify the areas of greatest need, we collaborated with the TAMU Architects Office, and the TAMU Facilities and Dining Administration (FDA), to locate the corridors or spaces that these funds could be best utilized.  After initial discussions about these corridors, we conducted field walks to identify individual concrete panels for replacement, as well as some large, contiguous expanses of concrete.  Several landings and entrances into building were identified, as well.  HEQ put some preliminary estimates together, along with a map of the different areas (Phases) that would be executed, and presented that to Bill Cox with FDA, for approval.  Once approval was given, we started construction.
Phase I of the DM 19- Concrete Project kicked off in the middle of May in the area of Main Campus around the Blocker Building, James J. Cain Building, and Halbouty Geosciences Building.  Targeted issues were grade separations and trip hazards, along with some decorative brick paver bands that were deteriorating and breaking up, causing safety issues.
The next phase of the project tackled the area referred to as H2O Fountain, or Chemistry Plaza.  This area had grade separations and trip hazards at the top and bottom of several sets of steps, as well as in the central plaza area.  Brick step treads were repaired, as were decorative brick bands, and concrete panels were re-poured to remove grade separation/trip hazards.  In some areas of the Chemistry Plaza, we went back in with a closely matching exposed aggregate finish to match the existing, since we were dealing with individual panels in a large expanse of exposed aggregate.
Several other areas of Campus were addressed through this project.  A long stretch of sidewalk at Research Park was replaced, along with a collapsed concrete retaining wall.  A walkway connecting the Gilchrist Building and the old TTI Headquarters was replaced do to settling and drainage issues, and a substantial amount of grading was completed in the turf areas to help with the issue.  A fairly sizeable sidewalk on the west side of Heldenfels was replaced, along with step landings and an ADA curb ramp.
The majority of Old Military Walk, and several other sidewalks in Academic Plaza were replaced as part of this DM project.  There is still some grading and drainage work left to complete on this phase, but all of this had to do with drainage and ADA issues. There will be a substantial amount of tree work that accompanies the grading aspect of the project, and will be paid for by another DM 19 project focusing on Tree Improvement. 
One phase of the DM 19 Tree project has been put on hold due to another construction project, but progress will continue as soon as the Nagle Hall renovation is completed.  This phase will include sidewalks near the Psychology Building, as well as the bike rack area north of the building. There will elements of this project that incorporate the Tree Project, again, as with Military Walk.
A lot of progress has been accomplished, since the middle of May, when it comes to accessible and functional use of pedestrian circulation routes.  HEQ Grounds has been working feverishly to improve the function and safety of the Texas A&M campus, and it is helping the appearance as it goes.  The University is to be commended for focusing on these needs and providing the support to achieve these improvements.  SSC Grounds is proud to accept the challenge looks forward to the opportunity to continue the mission.

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