Energy facility dirt removal adds to campus traffic challenges

The new energy facility being constructed on the west side of campus will cut carbon emissions and save water and money. But its construction is likely to cause additional traffic challenges.

The removal of 240,000 cubic yards of soil to make way for Stanford's new energy facility will add to traffic congestion in the area of Junipero Serra Boulevard, Campus Drive West and Stock Farm, Searsville, Electioneer, Oak and Sand Hill roads beginning today (Oct. 10).

Kelly Tippett / iStock.comBackhoe loading dirt into a dump truck

Removing soil to make way for Stanford's new energy facility is expected to continue through February 2013.

The university is breaking ground today on a new energy facility that will be key to reducing campus carbon emissions. The 125,000-gross-square-foot facility, which will be located near the Environmental Safety Facility, is part of the Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI), a project scheduled for completion in 2015.

According to Joseph Stagner, executive director of sustainability and energy management, the new facility represents a transformational change to how Stanford produces and uses energy.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the new facility's construction will initially generate substantial truck traffic in the area. The dirt will be transported to construction sites in Palo Alto and San Jose. The soil removal is expected to continue through February 2013.

In addition, the replacement of underground piping throughout campus as part of SESI to accommodate Stanford's conversion from steam to hot water for its building-heating system will require occasional changes to vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle circulation as new phases are completed.

So far, three of the 20 miles of pipes have been completed. In November, the project will force the closure of one side of Campus Drive, extending from Roth Way to Palm Drive, for six weeks.

The SESI work coincides with other work planned on the west side of campus. The trucks involved in dirt removal will be adding traffic to areas already congested by continuing hospital construction and a planned gas-pipeline replacement project by Pacific Gas & Electric on Sand Hill Road and Junipero Serra Boulevard.

"Traffic is going to require some very deft management in the coming months," Stagner said.

To address this concern, coordinated construction logistics planning between the university and hospital project representatives has been ongoing during the past year.

For construction updates on the SESI project, visit the website.