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June 9, 2016

Project to fix CL drainage

The ducks that swim from time to time on the Cathedral of Learning lawn will need to find a different vacation spot.

Work is progressing on a new drainage system that will eliminate the lake that forms between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Chapel after heavy rains.

The new lawn should be ready for use by Aug. 1, Scott Bernotas, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Management, told the University Times.

Overcompacted soil prevented the lawn from draining properly, he said. The old soil has been hauled away, replaced by a pair of 12-inch deep layers of stone covered by topsoil and sod. Beneath it all are six drains that run the length of the nearly one-acre lawn.

“This is the best kind of drainage system you could possibly have,” Bernotas said, noting that the system is similar in design to the Schenley Plaza lawn. Bernotas said the lawn is slightly crowned in the middle and designed to wick rainwater from the surface.

The University plans to grow sod elsewhere on campus to allow for speedy repair if the lawn is damaged by traditional pep rally bonfires or ordinary wear and tear, he said.

The $735,000 project includes a rain garden on the lower lawn, funded in part through a Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority green infrastructure matching grant.

In anticipation of the project, a drain line to the lower field was installed last summer as part of the restoration of the Varsity Walk, Bernotas said. The garden will be situated between the existing walking path and the hillside and will not interfere with the expanse used as playing space, he said.

The garden will include indigenous plant species, walkways and signage describing the sustainable features, Bernotas said.

A construction drawing shows an array of perennials, shrubs and grasses including common ninebark, dwarf fountain grass, royal purple liriope, moonbeam coreopsis, bristly cattail sedge, American blue flag iris, Henry’s garnet sweetspire and little bluestem grass.

—Kimberly K. Barlow 

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