Students running in between classes towards the restroom, long lines out the door, limited toilet paper and overflowing trash bins were some issues students faced with the closest operable restrooms located in 26A.

The restrooms in 26D closed in March and were scheduled to open late August before the beginning of the fall semester. Due to construction delays, the restrooms on the second and third floors did not open until the third week into the new semester.

“It’s horrible! They need to open soon. Women take longer than men for sanitary reasons,” undecided major Nina Vong said. ”I have 20 minutes in between class, and sometimes it’s still not enough time.”

The contract value to update the restrooms located in building 26A and 26D was approximately $2 million. The project was done in phases in order to avoid the closure of all restrooms in both buildings at once.

Phase one began in building 26A and started in September 2018. It lasted until March 2019. As soon as phase one was completed, construction moved on to phase two in building 26D. The restrooms were completely remodeled, with not only cosmetic upgrades but also with new plumbing, air conditioning and fixtures.

“It wasn’t just take the fixtures out, we completely took everything out of the restrooms. Walls, floors, everything is all brand new,” construction project manager Patty Leon-Encalade said.

The plumbing and air conditioning systems had not been upgraded since the 1960s. Cosmetic renovations and electrical upgrades were done in 2006.

“We were really fortunate that we were able to start the project before we got Measure GO,” Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Management Gary Nellesen said. “The only way we were able to do that was by delaying other projects, so we can advance the money and get access to the money earlier because those sewer pipes were failing.”

Measure GO was a $750 million educational bond that funds repairs and upgrades to the college in order to prepare students for jobs and successful transfer to four-year universities.

The plumbing in these restrooms eventually began failing, causing safety concerns. In order to quickly address this issue, other projects were delayed, allowing the restroom renovation project to move to the top of the list.

The new water pipes were upgraded from a copper pipe to a more expensive plastic pipe that should last at least 100 years. The copper pipes often leak due to corrosion or tiny defects.

Before the renovation, the restrooms were designed for the 1960s. The restrooms had dropped ceilings, ceiling tiles inside the restrooms, which is now considered dangerous, as people can climb those tiles. Hard lid ceilings replaced the ceiling tiles, which were a big part of the cost but an upgrade for safety concerns.

Newly constructed interior of the women’s restroom in Building 26D on Sept. 11, 2019. Photo credit: Lily Lopez/SAC.Media
Newly constructed interior of the women’s restroom in Building 26D on Sept. 11, 2019. Photo credit: Lily Lopez/SAC.Media

Ensuring student safety was a big part of this project when planning the design of the restrooms. Lighting and visibility were taken into consideration, especially for students who attend evening and night classes.

The restroom renovation will continue until all of the restrooms on campus are completely renovated, which can take a few years to complete. At the moment, the restrooms located on the ground floor and first floor of 26D are scheduled to be completed in approximately two weeks.