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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Stairway to Healey

The stairway that led to the Healey Library from the campus plaza was recently demolished. Initially, this seemed to be an act aimed at perplexing the student body. After all, the stairs had only been opened for approximately four months after having been closed for fifteen of their thirty-one years of existence. In fact, it seemed odd that they were ever re-opened at all. It turns out, however, that there are good reasons for the reconstruction that is currently taking place on the Healey Library stairs.

The initial cause of the closing of the library stairs was due to a structural defect in the form of a twisted beam. This problem was temporarily eradicated by installing shoring to make the stairs safe for student use. The problem lay mostly in the fact that the stairs were originally intended for more ornamental, rather than practical purposes.

The primary dilemma of the original stairway structure was that water often leaked from the catwalk above and onto the stairs. This leakage caused corrosion and rusting of the staircase. Then, when that water froze, it resulted in the cracking of the staircase leading students to have to deal with the inconvenience of slippery stairs, which also posed safety hazards. However, the designers of the new stairs took such issues into consideration when they took on the task of upgrading the stairs.

The new stairs to the Healey Library will feature overhangs, which will protect from water damage, and will also make the staircase winterized for students. Another attribute of the new stairway will be railings to enhance the safety those who use the stairs. The designers’ aim for the new stairway is to build an attractive, as well as useful, addition to the campus.

The estimated date of completion is the end of November 2002. Given the fact that construction was only recently implemented, both the designers and the construction workers seem pleased with the expedient completion of the project. It is interesting to note that construction was only started within recent weeks, rather than fifteen years ago, when the stairway was originally closed.

So long as construction is not delayed due to inclement weather, the stairs should be finished in time for students to enjoy convenient access to the library, along with a slight reprieve from harsh winter weather.

While it is unfortunate that the original stairway remained an obsolete figure on campus for fifteen years, it can at least be said that student safety was a priority when considering whether or not the stairway should be readily available for student access. The goals for designing a new stairway were not only to enhance the appearance of the campus and make facing winter travel on campus somewhat more bearable, they were also to prevent any student injury from occurring.