SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert has included no borrowing for new road or building projects in his $11.9 billion state budget proposal.
That could mean that, unless legislators step in, there's no money to replace aging, high-temperature water pipes at the University of Utah like the one that spewed steam in a Nov. 1 accident, seriously injuring 12 workers.
The U. is asking for $50 million this year to replace 16 miles of 30-year-old pipes and overhaul an outdated electrical distribution system that has caused outages all over campus. The total tab for the multi-phase infrastructure project is $99 million.
Mike Perez, senior vice president for facilities management at the U., said the fixes are "a very urgent need for the campus," citing frequent interruptions to research. Much of the electrical system was installed in the 1950s and 1960s.
The U. is in the district of Sen. Ross Romero, D-Salt Lake City, who said, "When you have a failure that's so public with resulting injuries, I would suggest that is no longer something that can be ignored."
The project is the 5th-ranked priority for the State Building Board and the top priority for state higher education officials. Further down their list are fine arts buildings at Utah State University and the College of Eastern Utah (now part of USU), a classroom building and central plant at Weber State University, business buildings at USU and Southern Utah University, and a science building addition at Snow College.
Bill Sederburg, the higher education commissioner, said getting new projects approved is always a concern, but he's pleased with the three buildings that were approved last year: a science building at Utah Valley University, a student commons building for SUU and a classroom building for Salt Lake Community College.
James Wood, director of the U.'s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, estimates that construction on college campuses accounts for at least a third of nonresidential building in Utah. There are currently 10 capital development projects — those at least partially funded by the state — under way:
USTAR building, University of Utah, $130 million
Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah, $97 million
David Eccles School of Business addition, University of Utah, $68 million
Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons, Dixie State College, $48 million
College of Agriculture building, Utah State University, $43 million
Science building, Utah Valley University, $37.5 million
Center for New Media, Salt Lake Community College, $37 million
Instruction/administration building, Salt Lake Community College, $29 million
Science Center addition, Southern Utah University, $18.9 million
Lucy Phillips Building remodel, Snow College, $3.4 million
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