A new floor slab cushioned from expanding subterranean shale would put an end to shifting floors in Kansas University's Wescoe Hall but would cost more than $500,000, a Topeka structural engineering firm has determined.
Although the shifting floor slab has caused cracked walls and hilly floors, the upward movement is expected to decrease and Wescoe remains structurally sound, Finney & Turnipseed P.A. reported.
The engineering firm is recommending KU undertake nothing more than cosmetic repairs in Wescoe.
"Option 1, do nothing, is recommended because of cost and the decline of the rate of movement in the slab," the structural engineers recommended in a five-page letter. "Survey data indicate that the upward movement of the slab has declined in recent years with respect to the 1985 reading."
But during that time, the upward movement in some areas was as much as 4 1/2 inches, the report stated.
A Topeka engineering firm, Barnett, Stuart and Associates, reported to KU earlier this month that moisture-soaked shale underneath the floor slab caused floors and walls to shift.
The firm predicted that continued upward movement of the shale beneath Wescoe and the building slab is "probable."
Jim Modig, KU's director of facilities planning, said he agrees with Finney & Turnipseed's recommendation.
"I personally am not going to promote tearing the slab out," he said. "I feel comfortable doing minor cosmetic things as needed."
Removing the slab and subgrade and installing a new slab that would be cushioned from expanding shale would cost $374,000, plus "a hundred thousand or more to pull up the carpet, take out the wall partitions and then put everything back," Modig said.
Removing the old slab, leveling the subgrade and pouring a new slab atop the soil would cost $110,000 plus the interior architectural requirements, he said.