Binghamton U Puts Most Construction on Hold During Virus Closures

Directions issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in late March suspended all non-essential construction activity in New York, leaving universities and colleges scrambling to put construction projects on hold in a manner that would allow them to pick up the work when closures have been lifted. At Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York system, that affected numerous building sites.

One of the largest projects, an addition to the Hinman Dining Hall, needed to have utility tie-ins done for safe shutdown, after almost all of the utilities — telecom, electrical, water and sewer — were relocated.

A chiller project underway in a science building had to continue long enough to ensure the appropriate building systems were in place to protect the buildings with HVAC.

Work was simply stopped in other projects, including a renovation to the Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences; upgrades to the Engineering Building; interior work for another science building; and renovation of a residence hall.

"This suspension obviously affects project schedules and completion dates, but it is too soon to gauge the impact," a missive from Physical Facilities stated.

The same statement said that some construction work would continue. That encompasses projects designated as "critical infrastructure," including work at hospitals or healthcare facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters.

SUNY issued contractor guidance for its construction jobsites, which offered a number of recommendations for workers, including having fellow workers informed when employees are confirmed to have COVID-19, performing "social distancing" on the job site, encouraging "hand hygiene," staggering work schedules to minimize how many people are at a job site at any one time and avoiding "cleaning techniques, such as pressurized air or water sprays that may result in generation of bioaerosols."

New York state has suffered the greatest number of COVID-19 cases (90,020 as of May 18, 2020) and deaths (28,339) of any state in the country.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.