Earthquake repairs at OSU total more than $350,000

Crack at Student Union Garage

A crack at the Student Union Garage indicated possible damage after the 5.6 magnitude earthquake that was felt in Oklahoma in September.

Large earthquakes in Pawnee and Cushing last fall caused more than $350,000 of damage at Oklahoma State University, according to university documents.

The powerful earthquakes caused noticeable issues such as cracking and separation to more than 20 buildings and structures throughout campus.

The 5.8 magnitude earthquake Sept. 3 in Pawnee resulted in about $320,000 of damage, according to OSU’s Facilities Management Administration documents. Work orders were called in for 30 buildings and most damage included cracks in sheetrock, concrete blocks and bricks.

“I’d say the majority of this project’s work has been caulking, grouting, smoothing, sanding, painting and putting back to its original finish,” said Gabe Dreiling, Facilities Management director of construction and contract services.

He said engineers found brick ties, used to improve the strength of a brick wall, that had come undone, causing walls to separate from various structures.

“In some cases, it was removed, new ties were put in and it was rebricked,” Dreiling said. “In other cases, it wasn’t going anywhere beyond the initial crack, and the crack was just filled.”

After the quake, buildings on campus were inspected for damage externally, said Ron Tarbutton, Director of Facilities Management Administration.

When an earthquake of 5.0 magnitude or greater occurs within 50 miles of campus or a quake greater than 3.9 magnitude is within 15 miles, exterior inspections to evaluate immediate safety are a part of the Operations and Maintenance procedure.

OSU hired CEC, an engineering firm in Oklahoma City, to further inspect buildings for structural damage, Tarbutton said. CEC charged the university more than $28,000 for an initial report as well as additional investigations, according to the project budget.

“They came up and inspected the buildings that we had concern about, the more significant structural concern,” Tarbutton said.

There were no immediate safety concerns, according to CEC’s report. Much of the damage was concentrated in the 4-H Youth Development building.

“4-H was by far the worst interior,” Tarbutton said.

The report outlined cracks linked to the earthquake in multiple places such as walls and the concrete slab of the freezer area. CEC noted two areas of the building where a concrete slab had settled above its original location, potentially causing a tripping hazard, and recommended OSU address the issues. Dreiling said one of the areas was repaired. Another is scheduled to be fixed in June.

Tarbutton, who has been at OSU for more than three years, said the OSU campus has never had as much damage from an earthquake before.

Phase one of the repairs is complete, and phase two is underway, Dreiling said. The second phase should be finished near the beginning of June, he said. Phase one is estimated to cost about $173,000, and the second phase is expected to cost more than $147,000, according to Facilities Management documents.

The academic departments share a $50,000 insurance deductible, which the university plans to pay for with money from a “pool” set aside to cover storm damage and other related issues, said Joe Weaver, OSU vice president for administration and finance.

“If it’s something in the core of the campus, we pay that first $50,000,” Weaver said. “The insurance proceeds will hopefully take care of the rest.”

He said the university annually sets aside money for insurance premiums and saves to pay insurance deductibles. OSU-Stillwater shares the pool with the other A&M schools, he said.

“We set those funds aside and draw on it as we need to,” Weaver said.

In instances where the university can’t prove an earthquake caused the damage and insurance won’t pay, Weaver said OSU will fix the issues as it is financially able to.

Facilities Management Administration also has money available for maintenance and operations on campus, Weaver said.

The 5.0 magnitude earthquake Nov. 6 in Cushing was initially estimated to have caused about $40,000 in damage on the OSU campus. Ten campus buildings put in work orders after the earthquake. CEC evaluated a Patchin-Jones staircase and a Drummond Hall mechanical room, according to Facilities Management Administration documents.

Most of the affected areas were OSU Housing and Residential Life properties, Dreiling said.  After reviewing the repairs and cost, OSU Housing and Residential Life will spend only $13,352 for the repairs and design, he said.

Dreiling said Operations and Maintenance has spent more than $3,600 on the project.

The project should be finished by the end of the summer, Dreiling said.

investigations@ocolly.com

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