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Kansas legislature

Kansas Legislature

Age, heavy use blamed in K-State pipe burst

January 24, 2007

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The problem of deferred maintenance at state universities came home to roost Tuesday at Kansas State University when an 84-year-old asbestos-lined steam pipe burst, causing classes to be canceled in several buildings, officials said.

"Basically, our campus is falling apart," said KSU President Jon Wefald as he waited to talk with a Senate task force studying repair problems at universities and community colleges.

"It's a very good example of the need for 'Crumbling Classrooms Two,'" said Wefald, referring to efforts before the Legislature to put together a systemwide building maintenance program.

But higher education officials said the proposal - which would free an additional

$15 million per year for five years - that received preliminary House approval Tuesday is nowhere near what is needed.

Tom Rawson, vice president for administration and finance at KSU, said needed repairs, maintenance and renovation of the school's power plant alone will cost $19 million.

Tuesday's pipe rupture occurred on a line built in 1923, Rawson said. He blamed the break on the pipe's age and heavy use.

The asbestos from the pipe was contained, he said, but heat to a large part of campus was turned off for several hours. No one was injured. A temporary fix is in the works, he said.

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