The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

83° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA struggles to keep up with maintenance

Tyler Besh
Tyler Besh/Arizona Daily Wildcat The University is working on many campus repairs including a project, after graduation, that will repave 4th street, between Cherry and Highland road.

The UA is working on an analysis and evaluation of deferred maintenance on campus to submit to the Arizona Board of Regents in the next couple of weeks.

A deferred maintenance report is issued around July and last year’s report stated that there was $158 million worth of deferred maintenance for the UA. Backlogged maintenance includes a majority of infrastructure, roofing and street issues, said Chris Kopach, assistant vice president of Facilities Management. Maintenance is allocated by the state of Arizona and has been declining in recent years, Kopach added.

The board of regents has taken notice of this problem and will be viewing proposals submitted by Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and the UA at one of its next meetings.

“Right now, what each university is doing is an analysis of an evaluation of the total deferred maintenance need, and then we are going to be reporting to the board of regents to sort of give them an update and give them options,” said Lorenzo Martinez, the associate vice president for finance and administration for the board. “Each university is developing a plan on how they might best address deferred maintenance. The board of regents now are sort of waiting for the universities to come back with proposed plans.”

The UA’s analysis and plan won’t be completed for a couple more weeks, Kopach added. There are a lot of buildings on the campus that are 25 to 50 years old, if not older, Kopach said. However, there are not enough funds to make repairs to all of the buildings at the same time.

“Just UA alone, it’d be similar if you had an apartment building or a house with a leak in the roof and you just didn’t have funds to fix it so you just did temporary patches until you could replace the entire roof,” Kopach said.

Bonds allocated by the UA in 2008 for maintenance will be exhausted in June 2014, Kopach said.

The UA also issued $25 million in bonds for deferred maintenance in 2010 and $43 million in 2011, said Duc Ma, assistant vice president of financial services.

The UA began its $13.5 million renovations on Old Main this year, as the second floor deck was becoming unsafe to walk on. The porch was beginning to fail because it was warped from weather damage, said Peter Dourlein, assistant vice president of planning, design and construction.

However, not all of the money for the Old Main renovations came from UA funds. Given that there is quite a bit of public interest in the project, a fundraising campaign is also underway, according to Dourlein.

Maintenance projects are ongoing in the upgrade of two elevators at Arizona Stadium, and two elevator upgrades were just completed at the College of Medicine. One at the James E. Rogers College of Law and another in the Civil Engineering building will be completed after graduation, Kopach said.

There is an air conditioning handler at the Arizona State Museum that is 50 years old that will be replaced this summer, Kopach said. Facilities Management is looking at replacing the John W. Harshberger building’s and UA Main Library’s air conditioning handlers as well, Kopach added.

In addition, Fourth Street will be redone this summer from Cherry Avenue to Highland Avenue, and eight roofs have been considered for replacement as well. However, the proposal for roofing time and cost of completion remains unfinished, Kopach said.

“Life and safety is always critical to our students, faculty and staff,” Kopach said. “What I mean by that is we want to make sure the buildings are safe at all times and the roofs aren’t leaking, so they aren’t affecting students or any of the research that is going on. We want to make sure we don’t have any indoor issues with mold with water getting in the building.”

Facilities Management will have to wait until the board of regents meeting to know if it can work out a way to get more money for needed repairs. Until the next regents meeting, the UA will focus on making critical repairs.

“All three universities are working really hard. Everybody is working really hard with limited funds, trying to be as efficient as possible,” Kopach said. “I know we have some really great Facilities Management staff that are trying to keep these buildings in top shape.”

By the numbers:

129 buildings on main campus, 137 buildings surrounding the perimeter
11 million sq. ft. that maintenance is in charge of
UA maintenance backlog: $158 million
NAU maintenance backlog: $109 million
ASU maintenance backlog: $244 million
Cost of chemical coating pipes last year: $1.2 million
Cost of replacing an air handler: can range from $1 million to $3 million
Cost of replacing a roof: can range from $100,000 to $500,000

More to Discover
Activate Search