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UA ready to start deferred maintenance projects

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Rebecca Noble | The Daily Wildcat

The remnants of a water fountain on the second floor of the Mines and Metallurgy building on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. The Mines and Metallurgy building has an estimated $7 million in deferred maintenance.

The UA is poised to begin part of its infrastructure improvements in deferred maintenance pending approval by the Arizona Board of Regents. At the top of the list is the Veterinary Science and Microbiology building also referred to as “Building 90,” according to the administration.

The 59,914 square foot building maintenance project is just one part of the UA’s $350 million capital development plan for 2018 fiscal year.

The renovations on the more than 50-year-old building are scheduled to cost a total of $18 million and will be completed through a design-build process. According to UA plans, this will allow the university to have early cost control over construction, save time by fast-tracking the project scheduling and still allow for the selection of the most qualified architect-contractor team for this project.

The School of Animal & Comparative Biomedical Sciences operates in the building, using its labs, classrooms and offices. A survey found that the building needed improvements in HVAC systems, plumbing, water leakage and accumulation, including pipe insulation and making sure the building is up to the required safety codes.

Workers inside the building have cited health problems from the deteriorating conditions. Jennifer Roxas, a UA graduate student and research specialist, said she faced health problems working in the building seven years ago. “In 2010, when I went back within the first two weeks I experienced an asthma attack in the building,” she said.

RELATED: UA maintains $131 million in deferred maintenance of old buildings

Roxas believed her asthma conditions, which were not usually a problem — became exacerbated while working inside Building 90. She described one instance while working in the lab. 

“My throat was so itchy that I would scratch it, it was so itchy,” she said, “I was having some problems breathing, I had congestion...” 

She said these problems led her to have an asthma attack multiple times in her lab.

Roxas later relocated to a different lab but still had to occasionally travel to the building.

Roxas said if the UA fixes the HVAC system and plumbing issues, she would return to the building from the BIO5 Keating Bioresearch Building to which she relocated. 

“I will give it a shot, that’s if they fixed everything properly,” she said.

RELATED: UA maintains $131 million in deferred maintenance of old buildings

The plan is for the UA to sell revenue bonds to finance the project in addition to funds from a new state bill signed in May.

This will be the first UA project to benefit from the new bonding approval, HB 2547.

The bill allows for sales tax from the three state universities to be matched by the state for use solely addressing maintenance deferments and development of the three state university’s infrastructure.

Half of the money paid on the bonds will be paid by State Appropriations tied to the new bonding program and half will be paid by UA matching the funds.

Gov. Doug Ducey signed the appropriations bill in May 2017 to help fund maintenance projects for all three of the state’s universities. 

“Today will be remembered as one that paved the way for decades of breakthroughs at our universities,” he said at the bill signing in Phoenix. “One that opened the door for Arizona students to receive the highest-caliber university experience; and one that makes Arizona second to none in support of higher education.”

All of the employees in Building 90 have relocated for the remainder of the construction and have gone to the Life Sciences South building and the Biological Science West building. They will return after the scheduled completion in July 2018.


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