Main stairway. (image source: Emily Blais)

All across the SNHU campus there is caution tape, fences and warning signs surrounding sites under construction. These sites include the SETA (School of Engineering, Technology and Aeronautics) building, Penmen Stadium and the quad stairs on the green space. The work being done on each site varies in scope, but the stairs, most notably, have caused students to have to change their routes or usual patterns around campus.

The quad stairs are at the heart of campus and are the most direct way to cross the street. The fencing surrounding the stairs on all sides has lead many to wonder what was wrong with them and when they will be fixed.

“The quad stairs are approaching 10 years old and for the second time in that period, the concrete is failing where the nosing (metal edge protector) is anchored into the concrete,” said Scott Greeb, Assistant Vice President of Facilities Management. “This is caused by many factors including what is used for ice melt, surface treatment, freeze/thaw cycles, etc.”

This project was planned to run before the pandemic hit but was put on ice when it did. When the freeze on projects was lifted, the stairs restoration was considered high priority and meant to be completed before the start of the fall semester. However, due to an issue with granite suppliers, the project was delayed again.

“Construction will start as soon as late October and we hope to have it wrapped up in early December, weather permitting,” says Greeb.

For now, students will have to make do with the walkway to the left of the stairs that leads towards Robert Frost Hall.

“To leave the stairs open with the failing nosing just isn’t an option we were willing to entertain. The liability to students, staff and faculty would’ve been just too much. Although they look in a safe condition from a distance, the nosing/concrete connection could catastrophically fail at any time and is dangerous to the sheer volume of foot traffic those stairs see,” said Greeb.

Over at the Stadium, more construction is going on. This includes the field itself, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance issues and more. A leaking problem is the reason the concourse area is taped off as they replace the concrete with pavers. Just recently, some of those sections that were previously cordoned off have been made accessible.

Meanwhile at SETA, there is scaffolding set up around the building to solve the issue of falling slate from the façade of the building. Over in Robert Frost, students may have noticed the stairs got an upgrade within the first few weeks of classes. They got a face lift, including new carpet on the landings, new stair treads, and a new coat of paint.

When asked about why there are so many projects happening on campus at once, Greeb stated, “A lot of it is related to the timing of unpausing projects and trying to wrap them up before school started. To pick up momentum with projects after being paused for so long can lose some valuable time. It’s the cost of starting/stopping things. However, we are asking that folks just hang in there while we wrap them up. There was no playbook for the pandemic.”