Network and Phone Outages to Occur During Winter Break

Posted: December 15, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Dave Andrews

So far, the only construction outside the Performing Arts Building on the Fairfax Campus has involved digging.

Building Patiot Pride logo

The building is due for an extensive addition, with construction beginning in late spring 2009. The prep work began last month when a large number of mature trees were excavated and relocated to other parts of campus.

This month, more digging occurred to relocate thousands of underground communication lines in the area.

Because the Performing Arts Building expansion will be built directly on top of some of the campus’ most vital electrical infrastructure, extensive rerouting is taking place.

Workers are already preparing to pull the cables from their current locations. But building occupants need not worry; no cables will be cut until the evening of Dec. 26.

manhole under construction
New communication line manholes have been constructed just west of the Johnson Center in preparation for the expansion of the Performing Arts building.

manhole cover

The university will be closed Dec. 24 through Jan. 4, 2009. University offices will reopen on Jan. 5, 2009.

“We’re very cautious about not making any changes or upsetting any electrical infrastructure during this critical point of the school semester,” says Randy Anderson, director of the Technology Systems Division.

Outages of phone lines, fire alarms and private data systems (cash registers and ATMs) resulting from the project will occur primarily between Dec. 26 and 31.

More than 9,000 pairs of copper wires are being moved, as well as roughly 700 strands of fiber. Several buildings could be affected with each cable that is cut.

Communication line relocations will affect the following buildings:

Center for the Arts

College Hall

David King Hall

Enterprise Hall

Fine Arts Building

Johnson Center

Mason Hall

Mason Pond Parking Deck

Patriot Center

Performing Arts Center

Presidents Park residence halls

The buildings should have full service restored prior to the reopening of campus on Jan. 5.

“This is a very difficult and complicated job,” Anderson says.

“I would estimate that we’ve put at least a couple hundred hours of effort into figuring out exactly who will be affected and when each phase of the work should be completed.”

Anderson says the contractor, Vision Technologies, is one of the most qualified companies in the field. Another plus is that the company was involved with installing the original cables in the ’90s.

“We’ve been working for a few weeks on minimizing the scope of this project by rerouting the paths of as many lines as possible and, thus far, we’ve had quite a bit of success,” Anderson says.

All voicemail and e-mail systems should remain operational throughout the course of the project. If phone lines are down at any point, incoming calls during that time will automatically go to voicemail to be accessed later.

The addition to the Performing Arts Building will add dance and orchestra practice spaces, larger performance halls and even a training room for performers. It will also feature a grand entrance facing the George Mason Boulevard circle.

For the latest updates on the outages, see

Write to at