A public meeting to present the Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (DEIA) for Phase 1 of the proposed University of Wisconsin - Madison (UW-Madison) Lathrop Drive/Bascom Hill Utility Improvements project will be held at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 2, 2019, at Conference Room 132 of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) Building located at 610 Walnut Street, Madison, Wisconsin 53726 on the UW-Madison campus. Parking is available free of charge after 4:30 p.m. in adjacent parking Lot #64. Bicycle parking is available directly northeast of the WARF Building, accessible from Observatory Drive/Walnut Street. A description of the project and potential environmental impacts will be presented, and all persons will be afforded a reasonable opportunity to identify both orally and in writing any support, issues, or concerns they believe should be addressed during the EIA process for this proposed project. The EIA will be prepared in accordance with the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA), Wisconsin Statutes 1.11, and UWSA guidelines (Board of Regents’ Resolution 2508, November 6, 1981). University of Wisconsin – Madison (UW-Madison) Facilities Planning and Management has retained Ayres Associates on behalf of the University of Wisconsin System Administration (UWSA) to prepare this EIA.
The UW-Madison campus is currently served by three heating and cooling plants: Charter Street Heating Plant (CSHP), Walnut Street Heating Plant (WSHP), and West Campus Cogeneration Facility (WCCF). The three plants supply steam, chilled water, and compressed air throughout campus. Electrical power is provided to campus by Madison Gas & Electric at five (5) primary locations and the campus distributes the power to buildings from nine (9) substations. The variety of thermal, electrical and civil utilities serving the UW-Madison campus requires constant improvements to keep the systems maintained. Routine upkeep is no longer sufficient, and the university has identified the Lathrop Drive/Bascom Hill utility project as a critical campus improvement.
The steam, condensate, and compressed air distribution system, civil utilities, and electrical along Bascom Hill serving the buildings on the north and east end of campus are at or near the end of their useful life. Most of the piping is at least 50 years old, but some segments are greater than 110 years old. Due to age, operational costs, future facility support and other utility failures in this area that have exacerbated deterioration, the north campus utility system is at risk for further failure and disruption of its distribution systems. Additionally, limited electrical infrastructure is in place in the Bascom Hill and Lathrop Drive areas. The area is loop fed with feeders sharing duct banks, which are more susceptible to outages caused by electrical distribution issues. Furthermore, utilities are sharing pathways for transmission and during failures it results in incidental failures of adjacent utilities. The proposed north campus utility improvement project will improve the reliability of the steam, chilled water, civil and electrical distribution systems in this area by replacing and adding the necessary infrastructure to complete the utility transmission between North Charter Street and North Park Street and Lathrop Drive and Observatory Drive.
Phase 1 ($20,076,000) of the proposed project is currently funded and will be assessed in this EIA. These utility improvements were recognized as a recommendation in the 2005 and 2015 Utility Master Plans and as the most justifiable way for executing the current needs and future requirements of the campus.
The work to upgrade underground utilities associated with this EIA will be located primarily on the western portion of Bascom Hill from near Lathrop Hall to near Observatory Drive. A new north-south thermal and primary electric/signal communications utility corridor will be created from the north side of Lathrop Hall to Observatory Drive. The corridor passes on either side of South Hall between Birge Hall and the Law School Building, crosses Bascom Hill, and extends to the north side of Bascom Hall. Thermal utilities include a new steam tunnel with high pressure steam, low pressure steam, pumped condensate, and compressed air. Electric utilities include primary electric and signal communications ductbanks, manholes, and cabling. Chilled water piping in the area of the new utility corridor will be replaced, including branch piping replacements to Birge Hall, the Law Building, South Hall, and Bascom Hall. Civil utilities including water, storm sewer, and sanitary sewer in the area of the new utility corridor will be replaced.
The proposed underground utilities will be installed to maximum depths of approximately 30 feet below existing grade. Work under Phase 1 is divided into three phases: bid packets (BP) 1 through 3: BP1 involves removing the existing fiber from brick tunnels in the area; BP2 focuses on upgrading the steam system in the project area, including decommissioning parts removed as new tunnels are installed, removing old tunnels (abandon-in-place with gravel/sand/cement slurry fill), and replacing old utilities (water, sanitary, storm) with pipe slips to limit disturbance; BP3 will add a new cast-in-place tunnel between Radio and Science Halls, across Bascom Hill, and a new steam pit, box conduits, and ductbank west of Music Hall. Existing infrastructure in the project area will be abandoned during the proposed project. Abandonments include chilled water pipes and ductbanks between South Hall, Birge Hall, Law Hall, and Lathrop Drive, a section of steam tunnel north of Lathrop Hall and a section north of South Hall, and chilled water pipes between Bascom Hall and Observatory Drive. Additionally, existing steam bit, tunnel, and box conduit will be removed from the area surrounding Music Hall and Law Hall. Hazardous material abatement will also be incorporated into the project scope as necessary.
During the construction of these utility upgrades, Lathrop Drive will need to be closed. The timeframe will be minimized to limit the need for a pedestrian detour and road closure. Upon completion of the utility systems, all areas disturbed by the project will be fully restored, including roadways, gutters, sidewalks, landscaping features, and site structures.
This project was enumerated in the 2017-19 UW System and State of Wisconsin capital budget with an authorized budget of $32,656,000, related to the thermal, civil and electrical distribution systems by replacing, upsizing and adding the necessary infrastructure to complete the utility transmissions. Total budget costs are estimated to be $32,656,000. Funding sources are General Fund and Program Revenue Supported Borrowing. Phase 1 of the project is estimated at a cost of $20,076,000.
The purpose of the Draft EIA is to identify potential impacts of the project on the physical, biological, social, and economic environments. The Draft EIA describing these potential impacts is being made available to the public and to appropriate federal, State, and local agencies for a 15-day review period, which begins April 23, 2019, and concludes May 8, 2019. Copies of the document will be available for review at the UW-Madison’s Helen C. White Library and Madison Public (Central Branch) Library, and on this website.
If you are interested in this project or have any information relevant to it, we welcome your comments, suggestions, or other input. For consideration in the Final EIA, please submit your comments at the meeting or in writing by May 8, 2019. Comments in writing can be sent to:
Ben Peotter, PE