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Montana State University president addresses roof collapses, plans for moving forward

Posted at 6:39 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-11 20:48:33-04

BOZEMAN – Crews are working on the Upper Gym roof on Montana State University, cleaning snow off and assessing damage after the roofs of two adjoining gyms collapsed on Thursday and Saturday.

In a post on the MSU website, President Waded Cruzado apologized for the events and expressed gratitude to students, facility, staff, and parents for their patience and understanding as the university works through the collapses.

“As unfortunate as this event has been, I am grateful for the fact that not one individual was injured,” Cruzado stated in her notice. “My goal is that out of this unfortunate incident, we will build an even stronger university.”

MTN News photo

On Sunday, crews removed snow from the roof of the Leon Johnson annex, the first of what is planned snow removal across campus this week.

Cruzado also said that MSU is re-evaluating its protocols for snow monitoring and removal, particularly during extreme or sustained weather events.

Last week, more than 24 structural engineers evaluated more than 40 buildings on campus.

In addition, the university posted a FAQ section for students, staff and faculty:

How long will the fitness center be closed? Will students receive a refund on their fitness fee since they won’t be able to use the complex?

It is too soon to know how long the fitness center will be closed. Much of the center appears unaffected by the roof collapses in the North and South gyms. If we cannot reopen the fitness center in a reasonable time period, we will consider full or partial refunds.

What will happen to students whose classes were in the fitness center?

With involvement from course instructors, alternative arrangements are being made to accommodate these classes. Please check the Recreational Sports and Fitness website for information about activity classes and group fitness schedules.

Why did the gym have a flat roof in the first place? Why does MSU let the flat roofs stay in place?

Flat roofs are very common for large buildings and continue to be used for both private and public structures in all climates. MSU has not seen a roof failure like this in its 125-year history.

When will Grant Street reopen?

Grant Street reopened March 10. Future closures are likely during cleanup and demolition work.

Will the walls of the south and north gym be demolished? If so, when?

While this seems likely, we need to wait for the insurance investigation to be completed before making any final decisions.

Is the university worried about the Upper Gym?

Right now, the entire fitness center is closed for evaluation and safety purposes. The Upper Gym, located between the North and South gyms, was built at the same time as the other gyms and is a similar construction type. Those factors make it a higher risk than the remainder of the fitness center complex. The future of the Upper Gym will be discussed after the insurance investigation is complete and the entire building can be fully evaluated for structural integrity.

What will it cost to replace the structures?

At this time, we do not yet know what it will cost to replace the gyms. As with any construction project, MSU will need to provide design requirements, create estimates and get bids before the cost can be known. Other considerations include whether there will be changes to the scope and/or purpose of the replacement space.

Will tuition go up because of this?

No, tuition will not go up because of this incident.

Will student fees increase because of this?

Student fees will not increase solely as a result of the roof collapse. We will seek student input to determine current and future needs before proceeding with any replacement. If the cost of a proposed replacement facility exceeds the amount we receive from insurance, students will be consulted and would have the opportunity to vote on any additional fees.

What about employees who work in the fitness center?

Employees impacted by this event will be relocated to alternative spaces. Temporary arrangements have been identified. Longer-term arrangements will be determined after we better understand our ability to use the remaining portions of the fitness center.