Underground Utility Project

The Underground Utilities Project at the University of Mary Washington is now in it’s third summer and is nearing substantial completion in August 2023.

Paused during the academic semesters to minimize disruption to classes and activities, work on the underground utility project will continue through 2023, with additional digging and pipe replacement planned for the summer, along with new water hydrants. Most of the lines connect directly to daily uses, providing heating for buildings and heating domestic hot water for cooking and showers in the residence halls.

When it concludes, the project will have replaced more than 5,000 linear feet of waterlines and steam pipes on the Fredericksburg campus, upgrading aging infrastructure and improving efficiencies in our water and heating systems.

As walkways are impacted, temporary pathways and path coverings will be installed. Please allow extra time to traverse campus during summer 2023.

Underground Utilities Project FAQ

What’s the extent of the Underground Utilities Project?

Waterline improvements included over 1,840 linear of primarily new 8” waterlines, over 20 new valve assemblies, and three new fire hydrants. Sanitary sewer improvements included over 1,348 linear feet of new or rehabilitated 8” sewer lines and the repair and rehabilitation of over 10 manholes.  The steam work included over 2,600 LF of new high-pressure steam and condensate return lines that extended from Mason & Randolph Halls to GW & Westmoreland Halls to Ball Hall and then to Virginia Hall.  In addition, a section of steam line was replaced from Melchers Hall to Woodard Hall. Seven new manholes were installed on the project.

These lines connect directly to daily uses, providing heating for buildings and heating domestic hot water for cooking and showers in the residence halls.

Why was this project started?

By upgrading this aging infrastructure, the University will reduce water usage and make our heat and hot water systems more efficient and less likely to need major repairs in the future.

From the initial phases, the University has seen increased efficiencies in the steam system, cutting the return condensate from 40% to 4% and reducing water usage overall, according to the Facilities team.

Why has this project taken so long?

The project has focused on the summer sessions to minimize disruption to residential students and to student activities during the academic year. While efforts were made to work around major events such as Reunion and Orientation, the project has been a major disruption to campus.  It has taken extra time due to supply chain delays, contractor issues, and unexpected obstacles underground.

What’s happening with the Underground Utilities Project in summer 2023?

The third and final phase of the Underground Utilities project began in earnest in May 2023 and will continue throughout the summer with work involving much needed steam, water, and sanitary improvements. A contract was awarded to JPG Plumbing & Mechanical, out of Jessup, Maryland. This round of steam improvements centers around Ball Circle, Westmoreland Lawn, and a section crossing Campus Walk towards Mason and Randolph Halls. Water line work will involve horizontal boring adjacent to Campus Walk from George Washington Hall to Lee Hall with some excavation required across Campus Walk to make final building connections. Sanitary repairs will occur near the patio in front of Woodard Hall. Work will require steam and water outages, which will be coordinated in advance to minimize impact to campus operations.

As walkways are impacted, temporary pathways and path coverings will be installed. Please allow extra time to traverse campus during summer 2023.

What does substantial completion mean?

The project will be substantially complete when all new waterlines and steam systems are fully connected and fully enclosed underground. Pathways will be restored for pedestrian and minimal vehicular traffic, such as move-in days, but brickwork may still be in progress. Campus Walk will be re-opened for normal use as the major thoroughfare of campus as classes begin.

What will the campus community notice when they return to campus for the fall 2023 semester?

As much of campus will be open for normal use as possible, but several areas where substantial groundwork took place will need time for the dirt and dust to settle and the grass to grow. Areas of Ball Circle may have limited use. Sections of the “Beach” greenspace between Mason and Randolph Halls, and the Westmoreland Lawn may be fenced off as trenches are filled.

What happens next on Ball Circle?

When the contractor wraps up the underground utility work, they will backfill and compact the area to return Ball Circle as a mostly-level outdoor space. Then the work of UMW Landscape and Grounds team begins, as they will nurture Ball Circle back to the green space we know and love. Seeding will begin again in the fall, go dormant in the winter, and through all the encouragement we can provide in the spring, be ready for Commencement again. It may take a couple of years for the grass to full take root and fill in Ball Circle.

What about move-in?

Many of the green spaces have been a central staging area for student move-in. Residence Life and Housing will provide more information about available parking areas in August, with measures in place to minimize disruption and compaction, and hopefully counteract any additional damage. Use of green spaces depends on the weather and stages of construction.

What if the water isn’t working?

Temporary water outages are scheduled as part of the waterline connections and will be communicated with campus.

Employees in buildings impacted by water outages are encouraged to use a flexible work schedule, work remotely, or work in other buildings during the planned water outage. Please coordinate your work schedule and location with your supervisor if you are in one of the buildings without water.  If you need assistance from departments in these buildings, you are encouraged to call or email during the outage, as many departments will be working remotely.

During these planned water outages as part of the Underground Utilities Project, buildings from Virginia Hall north, as well as the Cedric Rucker University Center, remain available for normal water use.

Additional questions? Contact: Freda Rosso, Assistant Director for Capital Outlay, at frosso@umw.edu or visit https://adminfinance.umw.edu/facilities/campus-construction/ for more information about campus construction projects.