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Archive for Saturday, April 26, 2008

KU: deferred maintenance backlog growing

April 26, 2008

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An LRM Industries employee digs a trench on the first floor of Kansas University's Wescoe Hall in early March. Work on Wescoe is one of several deferred maintenance projects under way on campus. When the section of Wescoe's first floor is completed, KU's classics department will occupy the repaired area.

An LRM Industries employee digs a trench on the first floor of Kansas University's Wescoe Hall in early March. Work on Wescoe is one of several deferred maintenance projects under way on campus. When the section of Wescoe's first floor is completed, KU's classics department will occupy the repaired area.

— Higher education officials have thanked state leaders for increasing funding to take care of a backlog of repairs at universities.

But they say the increase will not resolve the problem.

"The backlog is growing," said Jim Modig, Kansas University's director of design and construction management.

Here's the problem.

KU, with $1 billion worth of buildings, has an estimated $30 million worth of deterioration each year, including inflation.

Meanwhile, changes made by the Legislature last year mean KU will receive approximately $10 million annually for repairs for each year over the next five years. That still leaves at least $20 million in unresolved maintenance per year.

That is why Modig, along with officials and students from all the regents institutions, keep coming back to the Legislature.

"The Legislature is looking at ways to increase funding," Modig said.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have put universities on notice to be more judicious in determining which buildings should be fixed or abandoned.

That is why KU wants to sell the house-turned-office at 1043 Ind. It would cost $600,000 to renovate it and bring it into legal compliance, according to KU.

Meanwhile, KU is soaking up the new funds from the state for maintenance.

"You'll see these projects coming out just as quickly as we can get them designed after the money is available," Modig said.

In fact, construction started in January on the $4.9 million job to make repairs to Wescoe Hall. One of the main problems there is a heaving floor slab on the first floor. Repairs are expected to be ongoing for two years.

New fume hoods have been installed at Haworth Hall as part of a $2.6 million project that will be done over two years.

Another big project will be approximately $8.8 million worth of repairs to KU's utility tunnels.

The KU Medical Center also faces major deferred maintenance projects, with much of its funding going to repairs at the Applegate Energy Center.

KUMC received $3.6 million in the current fiscal year for repairs.

Comments

Centerville 6 years, 7 months ago

If we had an inquisitive journalism culture, someone would have included in the above a summary of repair projects and amounts requested and approved in prior years. And maybe, just maybe, tried to find out why the money wasn't used as appropriated.

Bill Chapman 6 years, 7 months ago

Another good question - Why is KU building more facilities, when it can't do maintenance on the facilities it currently has?

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