With Ohio State pouring $243.8 million into 1,266 construction projects on its main campus last year, some students said they are annoyed with the ongoing construction.
Ohio State’s Board of Trustees met Thursday and Friday to discuss university issues, one of which was recapping all construction costs and projects from 2010.
As of Dec. 31, 2010, there were still 423 active projects. These projects range from multi-million dollar construction, such as the south high-rise dormitories, to everyday projects that can include, but are not limited to small classroom renovations or asbestos removal.
“At any time throughout the year we probably have about 500 active projects,” said Mary Lynn Readey, associate vice president of Facilities Operations and Development in a Board of Trustees meeting Friday.
Although the university is in the midst of major construction in the medical center and south campus, the trustees voted to approve contracts for four new major construction projects. These will include boiler replacement at McCracken Power Plant for $15 million, updating utility tunnels on campus for $10.4 million, university hospitals kitchen renovations totaling $12.1 million, and construction of a campus electrical substation west of the Olentangy River for $57.6 million.
Of the 1,266 projects last year, 843 were completed, including the openings of the Ohio Union, Student Academic Services Building, and Lane Avenue Parking Garage at the corner of Tuttle Road and Lane Avenue. The Student Academic Services Building and Lane Avenue garage cost $32 million and $30 million, respectively.
The $243.8 million spent last year was the most spent on construction since 2005, and about $131 million was spent on projects with a budget of more than $20 million, which accounted for the majority of the construction costs.
Some students are expressing disinterest in the university’s approach to consistent construction.
“I just think it’s really inconvenient,” said Christine Patella, a second-year in medical dietetics. “The South Oval’s torn up right now and they’re probably doing really great things, but it’s also inconvenient for the students that are here now.”
The university’s execution of updating its facilities also causes trouble for the people in charge of construction oversight.
“Very often in construction, we find that pushing projects, pushing the paperwork of projects all the way to closed is one of the most difficult things to do because people are on to the next project,” Readey said.
One project students cannot ignore is the construction of new south campus high-rise dormitories, on 11th Avenue, and the resulting drilling of wells taking place on the corner of 12th Avenue and College Road. In total, the project is estimated to cost $172 million and is under budget and on schedule, Readey said.
The geothermal wells are slated for a January 2012 completion, while the entire south high-rise project is scheduled to be complete August 2013. The project will create 380 new beds and 992 renovated beds, according to Office of Student Life news releases.
Active projects have a budget close to $1.79 billion, but this number is transferred from year to year for projects needing more than a year to complete. One of these projects includes the medical center expansion and creation of the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, which will cost no more than $1 billion, according to the trustees’ agenda.
The groundbreaking of the project, titled ProjectONE, began last summer and is slated to be completed in 2014. The project will bring 5,000 construction jobs and 6,000 full-time jobs, according to ProjectONE’s website.
Although the university received a $100 million grant from the Affordable Care Act on Dec. 29, $925 million from university bond proceeds is expected to primarily pay for the project. University bond proceeds paid for nearly 60 percent of all construction expenditures last year, according an FOD report.
State-funded construction is on the decline, Readey said. Last year, the state paid for only 2.7 percent of OSU construction compared to 7.7 percent in 2009.
Hugh Williams, a second-year graduate student in statistics, said he thinks the university spends its money and time wisely.
“I just want to make sure the university’s using their money to the best of its abilities,” Williams said. “If they think the facilities need updating, maybe that’s the best thing.”
The trustees will next meet April 7 and 8 to check progress on construction projects.