Historic Oval trees will be protected during project to replace storm water pipes

The Oval in winter

For the next several months, the historic Colorado State University Oval will look a bit less picturesque as crews replace storm water pipes beneath it.

The original stormwater infrastructure that runs under the Oval dates back to the early 1950s and is due for a major upgrade, said Brad Johnson, CSU’s capital construction project manager in Facilities Management. The project, which will alternately affect different sections of the Oval until late August, will replace the aging infrastructure using a trenchless piping method, Johnson said.

“Our existing infrastructure has significant and extensive [tree] root intrusion issues, and the manholes are brick, which has caused them to lose structural integrity,” he explained.

The result has been inadequate storm capacity and periodic backup of the storm sewer into the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering building, Morgan Library and the Lory Student Center.

Trees protected

Although the extensive project will affect a majority of the Oval at one time or another, the historic trees will be protected, said Fred Haberecht, University planner. Facilities Management has done comprehensive mapping of trees and staff from the CSU Drone Center  captured images from above the project areas to determine the extent of tree branches to better understand the location of critical tree root zones.

“Since 1881, the trees on the Oval have been an iconic feature of campus life, bringing joy to generations of students and the CSU and Fort Collins communities,” Haberecht said. “This project is consistent with the tradition of good stewardship that has sustained these trees for 140 years.”

Realizing that the iconic Oval is a centerpiece for the University year-round, Johnson emphasized that the construction team will minimize site lay-down and staging areas to allow for some use of the Oval during construction.