Elevator closes for fall
Campus shuts down faulty lift for semester
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 15:10
Students taking courses in the Liberal Arts Building for fall 2012 have to navigate the levels of the three-story structure without the assistance of the building’s 52-year-old elevator.
In light of the lift’s continuously dysfunctional controller panel, the Contra Costa College administration decided to shut down the elevator for the remainder of the semester on Thursday.
Second year student Evalenea Richie is enrolled in two courses held in the LA Building. A recent surgery requires Richie to use a crutch, making it very difficult for her to walk up and down stairs.
“I used that elevator every day,” she said. “It’s an inconvenience. I have to climb or have a police escort take my bags to class. I use the walkways but it’s hard walking up the walkways — it’s not really safe.
“It’s just really hard and tiresome. I’m exhausted by the time I get to class. Sometimes I have to leave my other class 15 minutes early just to make it to class on time because it takes me so long to walk to class.”
When the elevator first began to malfunction early this semester, steps were taken to locate the problem and fix it. However, those attempts were unsuccessful and the lift continued to breakdown.
“We went through, cleaned connectors in the controller panel, and changed a few parts on the second floor,” Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said about the attempts made to cease the reoccurring stoppages.
“It breaks down once or twice per day now and people are having problems and getting stuck,” he said. “If one contact mechanism inside the controller malfunctions then the elevator gets stuck. In the past, when malfunctions occurred, power would be shut off and back on to reset the controller.”
King said the plans are to replace the original controller panel, which was installed in 1960, the buttons inside the elevator, the starter and, to meet the American Society of Mechanical Engineers safety guidelines, upgrade fire alarm system to work in conjunction with the campus’ fire alarm system.
Siemens USA is the contractor that will install the alarm system and upgrade the elevator so, in case of fire, the alarm will sound, the elevator will lower to the bottom floor, let riders out and will automatically shut down, King said.
The upgrades by Siemens carry a $27,947 price tag, and All American Elevators will handle the rest of the maintenance — the controller, starter and buttons, for an additional $49,357, he said.
College officials decided to repair the non-working parts of the elevator in lieu of entirely replacing the lift — which would have cost the college an estimated $200,000.
Although art major Ferryne Gatson does not need the elevator to get around campus, she does sympathize with those who do.
However, she believes that regular maintenance can help to ensure the elevator’s regular operation.
“Stuff gets broken and it needs to get fixed,” she said. “Keeping up with maintenance is the key. Maybe they should inspect all of the elevators.”
Siemens began its work Tuesday morning.
All American Elevators has to order the necessary parts before it starts construction, which could take five to seven weeks. When the parts arrive it is estimated that the project will be completed within five days, King said.
The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that elevators must be maintained and routinely inspected.
Although the ADA website states that isolated or temporary interruptions may be unavoidable, failure to promptly address the issues would place the college in violation of ADA code 407.
Disability Support Services Manager Yasuko Abe said the Disabled Students Programs and Services Department, in conjunction with Police Services, is helping to ensure that students with mobility difficulties have a way to get to classes.
“We are asking students to contact us so we can make arrangements,” she said. “We are working together with Police Services to transport students with disabilities. We have to ensure that every student has equal access to the classrooms.”
Police Services is using a motorized golf cart, borrowed from the automotive department, to transport those in need, however, there has not been much activity.
“I haven’t gotten (one) call from DSPS or individual students,” Lt. Jose Oliveira said.
“Police Services’ role (in the closure) is to facilitate students with mobile issues to get to the upper parts of campus from the lower parts and vice versa.”
Oliveira said that although Police Services is not necessarily responsible for transporting students with mobility issues, the officers do not mind helping.
“In the end, we are more than happy to help anyone with a need or refer them to someone who can help,” Oliveira said.