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Tunnels provide safe winter walk

by Shelby Toth
Tue, May 7th 2019 10:00 pm

It’s no secret that the weather experienced at The College at Brockport can be less than pleasant. Students often bundle themselves in layers upon layers in an attempt to stay warm while walking to their classes. In order to help protect those on campus from the blistering winds, the college has decided to add underground tunnels throughout the campus.

The plan is to reconstruct the main pathway but underground, directly below the current main path. For buildings across the road, students will be directed towards the Academic Success Center, where they will come above ground to use the current tunnel that connects the Albert W. Brown Building and the Drake Memorial Library. The pathways will be entirely wheelchair accessible and heated, in order to give students the best climate possible to walk through.

The decision was reached after years of debate and going back and forth on the idea, according to Facilities Director Danny Seuss. He explained that he was the one to pitch the idea originally back in 2017, and was inspired by somewhere he never expected, his daughter’s cartoons.

“I was watching T.V. with my daughter one day, and whatever the characters were doing I’m not really sure, but they started singing this song,” Seuss said. “It went ‘secret tunnel, secret tunnel.’ And I couldn’t get it out of my head for days. Then I realized how perfect it was for an idea for Brockport.”

After doing some research, Seuss came to the realization that neighboring college Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) already has an extensive tunnel system in place. Using RIT’s structure as a practical example, Seuss continuously pushed the idea to the administration.

“I figured that someday, they had to realize it was a bomb a** idea,” Seuss said. “I didn’t know when, I just knew that If I pushed enough they would realize it was a great idea.”

This year proved to be Seuss’ time to shine, as the administration accepted his proposal. Beginning in the Fall of 2020, the college will be working toward slowly creating the underground tunnel system. Brockport has hired a private contracting firm Hamilton and Co., which will be in charge of designing the tunnel system and constructing them. Joshua Hamilton, owner of the company, explained that the work will be extensive, but fairly straight forward.

“Many people would look at a project of that caliber and think ‘wow, that looks like it’ll be difficult,’” Hamilton said. “But really, we do projects like this all the time. We’ll need to take on a couple extra workers in order to do it, but it won’t be too hard for us.”

The plan is to continue classes as best as possible while the crew works on the tunnel system. Freshman Environmental Science and Ecology major Mae Whitman believes that this new system will greatly improve mobility around campus.

 “I know that next year, when I have to walk from Briggs to Hartwell, I’m going to freeze,” Whitman said. “I’m glad that future students won’t have to worry about that. They’ll get to walk through tunnels instead of the blizzards that we’ve all walked through during our time here.

Senior athletic training major Jack DeSane is also excited for the future students, and is “jealous” of the luxury they will have.

“I’ve walked through sideways rain, sleet, snow storms, tornados, everything you could imagine,” DeSane said. “The fact that the kids who come here in the future won’t have to deal with that makes me jealous, but I’m glad something is finally getting done.”

DeSane also pointed out that students of Brockport after the construction is complete might not see daylight too often.

“These kids won’t see the sun except through a window,” DeSane said. “I hope that they walk outside sometimes, even in the cold. It’s good for the legs, good for the soul to walk around outside a bit.

Whether students choose to use the pathway or stick to facing the temperamental weather conditions, the tunnel system will more than likely see a decent amount of students travel through it.