A worker walks across metal beams at the construction site on 18th Street, east of the ATLAS Building on the University of Colorado campus, on Tuesday morning. CU officials are doing additional construction on campus this week while students are on spring break.
Zak Wood
A worker walks across metal beams at the construction site on 18th Street, east of the ATLAS Building on the University of Colorado campus, on Tuesday morning. CU officials are doing additional construction on campus this week while students are on spring break.

BOULDER, Colo. –

The University of Colorado may be on spring break this week, but campus isn’t deserted.

With the student body largely out of town, CU officials are taking advantage of the relative calm to dispatch crews of workers clad in sunglasses, orange reflective vests and hard hats.

Their mission? To take advantage of the extra room on the temporarily student-free campus in order to complete a laundry list of construction and landscaping projects

“A lot of the projects we are doing this week are easier with the students gone, either because we can get to particular areas without having to worry about congesting pedestrian traffic, or because it’s less disruptive and distracting to students who would normally be on campus,” said Megan Rose, communications manager for CU’s Facilities Management.

At the top of CU’s spring break to-do list is a particularly tedious portion of construction on the new visual arts complex, a 170,000-square-foot building in the middle of campus that will house the art and art history departments, as well as the CU Art Museum.

Although the complex is not scheduled to open until January 2010, workers are doubling up efforts this week to run vital utility pipes from the new building to the central powerhouse — and to do it, they had to burrow through an entire section of 18th Street.

That section of work — the primary cause for the change in Buff Bus routes last week — should be complete by Sunday, Rose said.

The other major project underway during spring break is a wiring installation for the new Center for Community building, a massive 323,000-square-foot undertaking — opening in September 2010 — that will centralize a majority of housing and student services, and offer a state-of-the-art student dining facility.

“The reason they’re doing it during spring break is to minimize the affect of having to shut down Internet or power — especially if it turns out to be longer than expected,” Rose said.

Other, shorter projects slated for completion this week include replacing carpet in the Imig Music Building, making sure the elevators are up to code in Muenzinger, installing fan silencers in the labs at Ekely Sciences, and completing $125,000 worth of roofing projects on a number of campus buildings.

“We wanted our workers to be able to get up on the roofs and make noise without having to worry about disrupting classes,” Rose said.

Campus groundskeepers also view spring break as an opportunity to increase productivity, filling the week to capacity with landscaping, sidewalk maintenance and other projects.

Don Moon, main campus grounds supervisor, said the lack of students on campus during spring break “speeds up the work process significantly because we don’t have to spend 15 minutes of every hour breaking during class passings — which makes us a little more efficient.”

Some of the grounds projects scheduled for this week include herbicide applications to turf areas and landscape beds, hazard mitigation on the large cottonwood tree on the south side of Old Main, and sidewalk and handrail installation at the northeast corner of Lot 396.

“A lot of these projects have a more complex scope than what we do when class is in session,” Moon said. “We can work heavy equipment for moving trees and shrubs with less congestion around the site.

“We try to take those advantages when we can.”