By Valerie Bustamante
LOGOS FEATURES EDITOR
The new elevator under construction since late last fall in the Administration Building is expected to finished by the end of the month, University of the Incarnate Word officials said.
“We’re still on schedule for February and have not had any foreseen problems in the building process,” Steven Heying, UIW’s director of Facilities, Physical Plant and Ancillary Services, said.
The new elevator will be in the southern entryway of the main entrance side facing Broadway on the side near Hortencia’s Café.
The initial estimated budget for the ThyssonKrupp elevator was $750,000. It’s gone a little over budget at $759,491. Ironically, the old elevator has been out lately, forcing some classes to be moved.
The new elevator’s contractor, Cantera Custom Builders owner Tony Rivera, said the elevator is actually ahead of schedule on being done. However, the process in constructing it has not been easy, he said.
“These last five months have been very difficult because we are having to deal with a confined space and also the lack of parking that is available for us,” Rivera said. “These things make it difficult to build a five-story building. It is like building a high-rise building. You can’t attach it to the building that is already there so you have to figure out how to construct beside it.”
His workers also have had to share tight hallway space with the students and faculty as they are going to and from classes and Aramark housekeepers.
Elevator workers also have been faced with at least 30 days of rain and bad weather. However, it has not slowed them down. Rivera’s workmen have been on the job almost every day including weekends. Christmas Day and New Year’s Day have been the only two days they’ve been off.
The walls that will encase the elevator have been built and the concrete already has been applied to the exterior part facing the back of the building. Soon, brick will be applied to the exteriors so it can correlate with the existing building. The workers also have been applying smaller details such as repainting and wall paneling. The electricity to power the actual elevator is also starting to be added.
“What I am doing and my colleagues are doing is running all the J-boxes and running pipe throughout the building to apply new power,” Mario Zaragoza, an employee of the electrical contract, IES Commercial & Industrial, said.
“Basically what we’re doing is making sure we get the right power to the elevators and the right amount of power,” Zaragoza added. “This elevator shaft I know has been in construction a while, but we rely on somebody and they rely on us. So everybody has to be in tune so we can get the job going at the right pace. We all have to work together to get the right thing at the right time done.”
Although the existing elevator has been out for maintenance, it’s not possible to speed up the construction of the second elevator.
“We can’t change the schedule and the reason I say you can’t change the schedule is because when the elevator cab arrives power has to be running and the company won’t bring it on the work site unless 25 things that are needed to be done are already finished,” Heying said.
“When they come and install it and the elevator is done, then they have to do the close-out (where the elevator door will be). They also need to add sheetrock and frame it. Then they have to do finishing touches. The actual elevator though is not scheduled to arrive till (later this month). I don’t know how much time it’ll take for them to install it though. Sometimes it’s a week. Sometimes it’s two.”
The decision to put up a new elevator was contemplated for a while these last couple years after several changes such as adding several new classrooms and offices upstairs have resulted in more traffic up and down the building. The increased traffic has also put a strain on the old elevator. Thus, leaving the only other option, the narrow and overcrowded stairs.
It also makes it difficult for students and faculty that depend on the elevator for medical reasons who cannot access the stairs.
“As the University works to restore full service to the Administration Building elevator, we always keep in mind that it is our responsibility to ensure that students with physical disabilities have the same accessibility to their learning environments as all students have,” Dean of Student Success Sandra McMakin said. “We may relocate a classroom if an alternate, appropriate space is available. If the classroom is not available, we ensure that students with physical disabilities are receiving the same classroom instruction and service in an alternate manner (for example, one-on-one meetings in an accessible location on campus).”
One student, communication arts major Sherry Kermani of San Antonio, said she has been taking the maneuvering and inconveniences in stride.
“I’ve never had a specific problem myself with it,” Kermani said. “I’m just more excited for them to finish because the other elevator before is just not doing any justice at all because it makes a lot of students late ‘cause of how slow it was. I mean I do guess there could be situations where they could block the ways and it could be a little hazardous, but I think so far they’re doing a pretty good job in working with the students in regards to not being in the way all the time. There are times I do get a little worried because they have poles and stuff and I feel I’m gonna get whacked in the face, but other than that I am really looking forward to seeing the results and how it comes out.”