Commons Construction: A Tale of Tunnels and Bridges

By Purnell T. Cropper | May 18, 2010

Imagine: Digging 96 geothermal wells 400 feet deep. Building a pedestrian bridge from the Castle walkway to the new University Commons. Cutting through the underground tunnel that runs from the Castle to Murphy and Spruance—for now. And creating new pedestrian shortcuts around the construction site that use the bridge from the Health Sciences Building to Brubaker, and even the loading dock at Boyer.

Many alumni will remember furtive adventures in the underground tunnel system designed to carry heat and electricity from the estate’s power plant (now Spruance Fine Arts Center) to the Castle and the stables (now Murphy Hall). The footprint of the new Commons and infrastructure necessitates removing a small portion of the tunnel, but President Jerry Greiner notes that most of the tunnel system remains passable (though locked) and that future plans include dealing with some of the safety issues in the tunnels, which remain one of Arcadia’s greatest sources of mystery and ghost tales.

When construction on the new University Commons starts Monday, May 24, it means fencing off the entire campus inner quad for more than a year. The shortest route around the southern end of campus will be a temporary walkway that hugs the back of the Castle and uses the pedestrian bridge through the Health Science Building into Brubaker Hall. With new construction along the field side of Kuch and side facing Boyer Hall, the shortest route around the north side of the inner quad will be through Boyer and out the loading dock entrance. Watch for more news about this exciting project.