Fremont's study room has been closed due to potential mudslides. Austin Linthicum / Mustang News

Fremont Hall will remain closed for the 2017-18 academic year, but is slated to reopen Fall 2018, according to Cal Poly spokesperson Matt Lazier.

The hall was originally evacuated on Feb. 18 due to a mudslide on the nearby hillside. On Feb. 22, the hall was closed for the remainder of the 2016-17 academic year due to an expected growth in the slide area and an increase in the mud and debris encroaching on the study hall area.

Fremont Hall will reopen in September 2018 once the effects of the current slide are mitigated, according to Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Development Juanita Holler. Furthermore, Cal Poly will be taking steps to lessen future risk to the hall.

“There will be a number of mitigation measures performed between now and then in order to ensure the building’s safety for occupancy,” Lazier said.

Under construction

The first step in the process is to conduct a geotechnical survey to understand how the hillside is moving, Associate Director for Facilities Planning and Capital Projects Michael Brennan said. An inclinometer will be used to measure how much each section of earth is moving.

“To complete the entire study and understand how and why the hill is moving, we have to provide appropriate means to prevent movement in the future,” Brennan said.

The mudslide is considered a disaster by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards, Brennan said.

“Construction of mitigation to stop it from moving is not something we can do quickly,” Brennan said. “It takes times because we have to do it in sections and can’t remove all the dirt at once.”

Surrounding areas of Fremont Hall are safe for students to frequent. The Cal Poly “P” and the front of Fremont are not affected. However, there will be barriers and caution tape preventing students from going into construction areas, Holler said.

For Summer 2017, part of the “K” parking lot will be closed, but Facilities is trying to keep the restricted construction areas to a minimum.

The drought was a major cause of the slide. Large amounts of rain water were not able to permeate the soil, causing it to go directly to the bed rock, which created an underground river. It caused the soil to loosen and become unstable which made it slide, Holler said.

“[To prevent this] we want to put a french drain on top off the hill to take the water around a different way,” Holler said.

After finishing drainage efforts over the summer, facilities will take protective measures in anticipation of another slide.

Fremont suffered minor structural damage and cracking to the eastern wall of the first-floor study lounge. This damage will be repaired over Summer 2017. Final stabilization of Fremont will begin in Summer 2018.

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