East Campus Access
Third in a series: New walkway, parking options seek to sustain east campus access

The east campus parking map and traffic patterns will undergo some significant revisions as an estimated $170 million series of projects gives rise to a 233,000-square-foot (CORRECTED 11-9-11) home for the sciences, renovated School of Education buildings and an exterior overhaul for historic Sheldon Hall.

Tom Simmonds, co-chair of the Campus Concept committee and associate vice president for facilities, outlined the scope of the traffic changes:

* A 1,600-foot-long fence will surround the sciences construction zone. Pedestrians will use a new walkway on the lower level of Snygg Hall, or the Washington Boulevard sidewalk.

The temporary route through Snygg is a key to maintaining pedestrian access from the west to Wilber and Park halls—and the rest of east campus—while Piez is closed for renovation and the new building goes up, Simmonds told an audience April 19 at a campuswide meeting in Park Hall.

Planners are working with Starr Knapp, coordinator of Disability Support Services, to make sure the route is accessible, Simmonds said.

Graphic showing areas impacted by construction.* The parking area between Wilber and Piez halls will come offline, as will the diagonal employee parking along Takamine Street.

* The commuter lot—145 spaces—between Snygg and Sheldon halls will give way to drilling of a geothermal field, whose 252 holes, each about 375 feet deep, will provide a natural heat sink for cooling and heating the sciences complex. (Read more about the geothermal project in the next issue of Campus Update.)

* Lot 17 along Centennial Drive on the north side of the Campus Center—currently residents only—will expand to 187 spaces, an increase of 100 from today.

* There will be a net loss of spaces, even with the Lot 17 expansion, but the precise number—and how they’ll be made up—remains a subject of ongoing discussions.
Simmonds said he is meeting with key administrators, including University Police Chief Cynthia Adam, for a plan to shift parking in ways that reasonably and safely serve faculty, staff, residential students, commuters and visitors during construction.

Planning parking

“We’re consulting with different groups and collecting good ideas,” Adam said. The parking options under exploration, she said, fall under three main headings:

* A zoning plan for campus residents, to ensure their vehicles remain parked in residential lots during peak weekday hours for classes, rather than in lots closer to academic buildings.

* Redistribution of spaces in, and improvements and potential additions to, existing lots. This would enable campus employees to park relatively close to their places of work during construction. Adam said a goal of this set of options is to rehabilitate parking lots in need of repair this summer, and potentially to pave gravel portions of some residential lots.

* An enhanced shuttle service to make it more attractive for commuters, employees and others to park in Lot 7 between Route 104 and the Romney athletic fields.

“At this point, we’re still in a deliberative process,” Adam said. She believes that with the cooperation she sees among campus constituencies, pursuing these parking options “should get us in a position where we’re in a state of readiness for the fall.” The chief said she and other campus planners would make additional information available as soon as possible.

Simmonds has said he expects major portions of the new sciences complex to open by fall 2013; about a year later, renovations should be completed to Park and Wilber halls for the School of Education, as well as construction of the link between Wilber and the new sciences building. Plans call for new parking near the corner of Washington Boulevard and Centennial Drive, south of the sciences complex, but that would follow salvage and demolition of Snygg Hall in the fall or spring of 2013-14.

As for construction access to the fenced-in zone, Simmonds said construction vehicles and up to 350 workers will enter via a roadway connecting Washington Boulevard with the site, passing between Snygg Hall and the Snygg parking lot/geothermal field.

GRAPHIC CAPTION—click on map for larger image
* The irregularly shaped solid red line shows the perimeter fence that will go up this summer for the sciences construction and renovation projects.
* The rectangular red line (bottom center) surrounds a commuter lot that will go offline after the bid is awarded for a geothermal field to help cool and heat the new sciences building that will envelop a renovated Piez Hall.
* The heavy blue line shows direct pedestrian access from the west, through the lower level of Snygg Hall and exiting for access to Wilber and Park halls and the rest of east campus.
* A dotted red line (upper left) describes an expanded Lot 17 to absorb about 100 spaces’ worth of the net loss of parking in the construction zone.
* A heavier dotted red line (lower right) represents exterior renovation of Sheldon Hall.
* The heavy yellow line follows the roadway that will provide site access to construction vehicles and workers.

(Posted: Apr 23, 2010)