By Tony Heath, Project Engineer

This blog post covers August 19th and 20th.

MON, AUG 19: Howdy!

It was good to be back out at the garden this today after a long weekend. Special thanks to Layne for stepping in Friday and handling all the chaos on his first day supervising construction at the garden. The changes to the south cell look awesome and it’s great to have a major item crossed off the list.

When I arrived this morning, I met with Eliana to walk the garden and get caught up on everything that had happened Friday and over the weekend, while Josh and Stephanie worked on moving the mulch from the Allen Hall parking spaces to the grass area south of the rain garden. Stacey DeLorenzo had agreed to let us use two spaces for a couple more days, but we figured that if we were moving some of it, we might as well move all of it. And we want to be good neighbors to our friends at Housing.

Eliana and I also took a look at the inlet protection she’d installed on Saturday and it looked like it had done a good job keeping the inlet clean.  

The inlet protection installed by Eliana Brown on Saturday. Photo by Tony Heath.

Eliana and I also discussed the sidewalk revision, which had been mentioned Friday, and we decided it would be worth following up with Campus Landscape Architect Brent Lewis. I recalled that he recommended a 10′ width rather than 12′ when we had spoken about it a few weeks ago.

Once the mulch had been relocated, and while Eliana reached out to Brent, construction moved to preparing the last stretch of sidewalk which connects the bike rack area to the new sidewalk along the Allen Hall parking lot. Josh and Stephanie used the backhoe to dig down 10″ to create a level sub-grade for the sidewalk. That 10″ leaves room for 2″ of stone base material and 8″ of concrete. At the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus, all new sidewalks are installed 8″ thick to accommodate the large variety of foot and vehicular traffic that will use them and so that F&S doesn’t have to worry about whether old sidewalks will be compatible with new installations. 

That 8″ standard thickness came in handy when Brent came on-site to verify it and determine if we would be able to install a 4′ x 6′ panel or need to use a 6′ x 6′ panel. F&S was concerned that using a 4′ wide panel wouldn’t be as structurally sound as a 6′ wide panel. Fortunately, since the existing and proposed sidewalks are both 8″ thick, we’ll be able to dowel the new panels into the old sidewalk, ensuring that they’ll stay linked together and won’t shift apart over time. With this updated information, Stacey approved the 10′ sidewalk width for the entire north sidewalk. I’m glad to hear her decision as it results in a sidewalk with less impervious area and encourages bicyclists to ride at a safer speed. It also allows us to keep our existing planting plan, which makes Layne happy.

Josh and Stephanie spent the afternoon preparing the sub-grade for the new sidewalk installation along the north edge of the garden.

Josh and Stephanie preparing the sub-grade for the new sidewalk installation.
Photo by Tony Heath.

This afternoon, Prof. Art Schmidt also visited the rain garden to discuss his monitoring equipment’s installation plan. We had originally intended to install conduit that will connect the north and south cells today, but that wasn’t possible due to the shifting construction schedule. Instead, we decided that we would install this conduit later so we can minimize the amount of time that the south sidewalk is closed. This also gives Prof. Schmidt a little more flexibility on the equipment installation date, which in turn, allows his Field Methods class to participate and have real world experience.

We finished up just after 3:00 p.m. Tomorrow begins student move-in for our neighbors, the residence halls. As such, we scheduled work today that needed access from Allen Hall parking lot so we could clear it to accommodate tomorrow’s student move-in. After we moved the mulch to the south cell, we moved the barricades out of the parking spaces. Because our new sidewalk isn’t complete yet and it wouldn’t be a good route for student move-in, we placed the barricades on the sidewalk. We want our new neighbors to have a good first day!

With move-in happening at Allen Hall and severe thunderstorms in the forecast, we’re not sure how much we’ll be able to get done tomorrow, but the plan is still to be out there in the morning and get as much done as possible. Here’s to another big week!

TUE, AUG 20: Howdy! Short day today as storms drove us inside around 11 a.m. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts of 70 MPH.

This morning, work continued with excavation for the sidewalk expansion as students moved in to the residence halls. At around 8:40 a.m. an old electrical conduit was uncovered and we paused while waiting for the Shop 25 electricians to come out and take a look. We were pretty sure that it was abandoned, but wanted to get their eyes on it either way. Unfortunately, the electricians were in Tuscola getting their Class 3 certifications and weren’t able to make it on-site until 10:45 a.m. just as the sky turned dark, thunder began, and the tornado sirens started going off. Fortunately, they were able to determine that the line was out of use but at that point we had to call it for the day. Hope to get more done tomorrow.