District updates campuses, retrofits CCC

Sean Tongson

Contra Costa College is set to undergo a significant seismic retrofit project.

Located directly on the 45-mile long Hayward Fault in San Pablo, a recent study conducted by outside surveyors deemed all buildings located at Contra Costa College “at risk” in the event of a major earthquake, necessitating the need for the structural retrofitting for all of the buildings on campus. The estimated budget for the retrofit project is $2.3 million.

“The retrofit will provide additional support so the buildings can better withstand an earthquake,” said Bruce King, Buildings and Grounds Manager for Contra Costa College. “The structural retrofitting is required because of the seismic issues we face in California. CCC is located on the Hayward Fault and is subject to earthquake concerns.”

Established in 1950, Contra Costa College was built and constructed in complete accordance with the building codes in effect at the time. However, according to Chief Facilities Planner Ray Pyle, the purpose of this seismic retrofit project is not to correct errors or faulty construction that may have ensued when the campus was first built.

“Building codes do change over time, but there is no requirement for buildings to be periodically upgraded to meet new codes,” said Pyle. “We performed an engineering analysis of buildings at Contra Costa College and found that certain buildings presented a substantial risk to life and structural damage to property in the event of a major earthquake.”

While all buildings were surveyed and deemed “at risk”, due to cost concerns, buildings on the CCC campus will be retrofitted with the highest risk levels given highest priority.

“Each building would be treated separately depending on the construction and need of the building,” said King. “Funding is always an issue. There is a budget available to retrofit some of the buildings, obviously prioritizing by risk.”

According to the current project, all buildings on campus will be retrofitted, with the exception of the Humanities building, which is planned to be demolished as a part of a new separate college center project for CCC. The remaining buildings that were studied were considered acceptable because their risk level was minor and no retrofit plans are being considered at this time.

“The analysis of other buildings resulted in a finding of moderate risk to life and structural damage in the event of a major earthquake,” said Pyle. “We are retrofitting some of those buildings, and are putting together plans to seek funding from the state.”

Although the need and importance for this project is high, a timeline and completion date for the project has  yet been developed, due to the overall project still being early in the design phase.

“We have not finalized the timeline for the initial retrofit projects because we are still early in design,” said Pyle. “We will also need to coordinate with the campus to schedule the projects to minimize educational program disruptions.”

All three colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District have recently been approved for construction and modernization projects due to a local bond measure passed in 2006.

Contra Costa College is undergoing seismic retrofit, due exclusively to its location on a major fault line.

Further information on the CCC seismic retrofit project, can be found at http://www.4cd.edu/gb/agendas_minutes/agendas/2012-10-10.pdf.