Large pipes cover the back half of campus: Why are they there?

Katie Pulvermacher, News Editor

Large white pipes have been covering campus between Harrington, Halsey and Swart for multiple months, but what are they really there for? It is evident that not everyone knows.

“I kind of assumed the pipes are for heating, but I’m not sure where they lead to or why they are here,” senior Hannah Lohrenz said.

Another student mentioned how campus is trying to be more sustainable, and maybe this was another nudge at that.

“Because campus is working on being more sustainable, maybe the pipes have something to do with that,” senior Karrina Kincaid said. “I think it’s something gearing towards being sustainable and eco friendly, which would be something to put on our homepage to attract more people to campus.”

Walking over the pipes has become a normalcy for many.

“I definitely agree that walking over the pipes is a second nature by now,” sophomore Ellie Gill said. “I don’t walk in that direction too much, but when I do, I hardly notice the pipes.”

The real purpose of the pipes is a much larger on-going project.

“In order to place those pipes back underground, we are going to need to dig up soils and sidewalks, put the pipes in place and then put the soils and sidewalk back, regrade and reseed the grounds,” Chief Facilities Officer JoAnn Rife said. “Thus, a larger project.”

A majority of the buildings on the UW Oshkosh campus are fed from central heating and chiller plants that provide heating and cooling.

“The most direct routes (without lots of bends) for the piping, reduces the pressure needed to make sure the steam and condensate need to flow thru that underground piping,” Rife said.

The temporary lines placed above ground are located in a manner to minimize the number of sidewalk crossings needed, yet many are needed.

“The ramps prioritize accessible pathways and bright yellow painted cover boxes where piping crosses over sidewalks are in place to be highly visible and safe for all pedestrians as they traverse the campus,” Rife said. “We will get that piping back underground just as quickly as we can.”

The piping project will take a couple months to complete. Expect to see them in the following semester(s).

“The timeline for putting those condensate lines back underground is dependent upon the process and procedures we need to follow in working with the State of Wisconsin Division of Facilities Development,” Rife said. “It will take anywhere from 6 to 12 months depending on how long it takes to get the paperwork approved.”