The Erie School District is dealing with an unexpected maintenance project, at one of its school buildings.

It’s a huge abandoned coal bunker, and Erie News Now got a look inside on Tuesday.

It's located under the parking lot of the Wilson Middle School, on east 28th street, “This is an abandoned coal bunker where they used to keep the fuel to heat the building, and over the years it's had a lot of degradation to the concrete and the structural steel that reinforces that concrete,” said Eric Seibert, Director of Facilities and Maintenance at the Erie School District.

It is not a hazard to students, or the building's structure. But according to architects, heavy vehicles driving over it could cause it to collapse, so the district has closed off the area, to vehicle traffic.

Architects recently did a survey of all Erie school district buildings, they determined the damage at the Wilson Middle School bunker was substantial enough to put it at the top of the list to get fixed.

And while abandoned coal bunkers like this aren't unique, this one is, because of the severe amount of damage, “A lot of them have had degradation but this one is severe enough that we're seeing the structural steel fail in the concrete members, and so this one was deemed bad enough that we needed to do something,” said Seibert.

The district must now spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, to fill the entire bunker with concrete, “Right now they're estimating that it's going to cost $300,000 to fill this up with concrete and that will be a permanent fix, so we don't have any issues going forward,” said Erie Schools Superintendent, Brian Polito.

A budget surplus is paying for the work. Those funds are coming out of the capital fund budget, “We do have some money set aside for capital projects, we had a surplus last year, and we're anticipating one this year,” said Polito. “So we're putting the excess funds into a capital projects fund so the money will be there, this will just be part of the overall projects that we will be doing over the next several years in all our buildings,” Polito continued.


Work to fill the bunker with concrete will begin in the summer, after the school year.