MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University has received a grant of nearly $47 million from the Higher Education Policy Commission to address maintenance issues throughout the system. Ted Svehlik, associate vice president for auxiliary and business services, said the improvements will be completed on the campuses in Morgantown, Potomac State College in Keyser, and the WVU Institute of Technology in Beckley.

“We have approximately 500 buildings on campuses that we maintain, so keeping them up and in good shape is certainly a daunting task,” Svehlik said.

The work will include many very visible improvements, but much of the work will have to do with the infrastructure serving the building residents. For example, the network of steam tunnels serving the campus is 80 years old, and some of the tunnels are of original brick and masonry construction. In some areas, the roof of the tunnel serves as a sidewalk for students.

A recent failure in a steam line near Martin Hall required extensive repairs, including replacing the line and sidewalk and repaving the parking lot behind the oldest building on the Morgantown Campus.

“When you turn on your faucet, you expect to see water, but you don’t know where it comes from,” Svehlik said. “When we work on our steam lines, they heat and cool all of the buildings on our campus, but they are things people don’t think about.”

Also in line for upgrades are elevators, fire alarms, and other critical building systems that ensure the day-to-day safety of students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors.

“With as many buildings as we have on campus and the age of our campus, we have some catching up to do to make sure those systems are up-to-date,” Svehlik said. “I think that will be critical for the health and safety of our students,” Svehlik said.

Work at Davis Hall on the WVU Potomac State College campus and the Purinton House on the Morgantown campus is also planned this year.

Davis Hall was built in 1914 and will require an estimated $7.8 million to address critical building systems, including safety, infrastructure, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Asbestos abatement is also part of the planned work.

Purinton House was built in 1904 as the University President’s residence and is one of many campus buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Since June 2023, the front entrance has been blocked, and temporary shoring has been installed for the porch roof due to structural concerns. The cost of those repairs is estimated to be $1.4 million.

“We realized the porches on the building, which are also historical, are starting to sag after 100 years of history in that building, so we’ll be replacing those porches this year,” Svehlik said.

The improvements could reduce some operating costs and reduce the need for continued maintenance in some cases.

“Utility efficiencies, so you don’t use as much heat,” Svehlik said. “But also, not having leaks means you’re not having issues with mold or repairs you need to make.”

The pedestrian bridge at the main entrance of the Engineering Sciences Building on Morgantown’s Evansdale Campus, built in 1960 as part of the original part of the building, will be replaced. When state legislators toured the area during the 2022 interim meetings, it was noted that the steel support beams and concrete deck had deteriorated due to weather and aging.

A new pedestrian bridge has been designed and will be put out for bid this spring, with a scheduled completion date of November 2024 at a proposed cost of $1 million. The new pedestrian bridge will also add an ADA ramp that was not part of the 1960 structure.