University News

Steam Tunnel Project & Heating Plant Upgrade

November 3, 2010

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MACOMB, IL -- Work has started this week on a steam line project and the heating plant upgrade at Western Illinois University.

Phase I of the project includes installing 400-feet of walk tunnel and 1,200-feet of shallow tunnel near Western Hall. According to Scott Coker, assistant director of facilities planning and construction, the existing walk tunnel just to the west of Western Hall and to the north under University Drive will be extended utilizing the unused pedestrian tunnel. Phase II of the steam line project, which is expected to begin in Fall 2011, will extend the tunnel to Thompson Hall and the North Quad and will include more than 2,500 feet of shallow tunnel.

Due to the current construction, a portion of Lot 22, between Waggoner and Western halls, will be closed. Phase I is expected to be completed by May 2011.

In addition, work has started to improve the reliability and efficiency of the Macomb campus' Heating Plant. The upgrade consists of rebuilding and re-casing a natural gas boiler, replacing critical electrical infrastructure and replacing the masonry coal stack.

The projects were initiated in 2009 following approval for the University to borrow $10 million through certificates of participation (COPs) to update aged and failing infrastructure on campus, Coker explained.

"These critical projects will ensure reliable production and distribution of steam, which provides heat, domestic hot water and cooling to the majority of our campus buildings," he added.

"As we move forward, we ask that everyone be patient with the construction as these are projects that are crucial to the continued operations of our campus," said Vice President for Administrative Services Jackie Thompson.

For more information, contact George Beckman, project manager, at (309) 298-1834 or

Posted By: Darcie Shinberger (
Office of University Relations