Summer construction affecting campus traffic

By Brittney Foreman

For the next month, and perhaps most of the summer, the center of campus town will be buzzing with construction. With at least 3 projects on or around Green Street, student drivers and pedestrians should be aware of the bulldozers and trucks that may cause slight delays and possible safety hazards.

The Mobile gas station, on the southwest corner of Green and First Street, has already been torn down. A new two-story Mobile will be built in the place of a remodeled version of the old Illini Media building, said carpenter Darrell Miller as he stood by his truck in the parking lot behind The Charro, restaurant and grocery store.

At the construction site, which takes up about half a block, eastbound traffic on Green Street has been reduced to one lane.

Yasmin Salinas, owner of The Charro, said the construction is affecting her business, parking-wise.

“Customers don’t know where to come in or out,” Salinas said while standing behind the register.

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Salinas said nobody asked her if they could take up her parking lot while they did construction work, but she would not have said “no” if they had. She does not plan on doing anything about it.

“Plus, I don’t know who to go to,” Salinas said.

Darrel Miller of DND construction said parking is pretty much first-come, first-serve.

“Nobody knows what to do, you just find a spot and you park,” Miller said.

Miller said Pickle Construction plans for the new gas station to open in the middle or third week of July, but he anticipates it might not be ready until the first week of August.

The sidewalk in front of the construction remains fragmented and partially filled in with rocks.

Shortly before a bulldozer backed up over the sidewalk, Scott Fleming of the Labor Hall in Urbana said they have to leave the sidewalk open for pedestrians.

Besides walking over broken, uneven pieces of concrete to travel down the sidewalk, pedestrians have to limbo under the yellow tape at the corner to cross First Street.

Moving further east on Green, another portion of the street has been reduced to one lane for eastbound traffic, redirecting traffic into the center turn lane.

Across from FuBar and IHOP, in place of the old Burger King, there will be a multi-story apartment building. College Corner, or the Green Street Towers Project as named on the construction company’s Web site, will be equipped with a 750 sq. ft. terrace pool, custom hot tub, rooftop deck and more than 200 parking spaces in addition to other accommodations.

The new complex will have 110 apartment units according to a sign in front of the construction site. Units available include a four bedroom and two bathroom apartment or a two bedroom and one bathroom option. Amenities also include: lounge room, flat panel TVs, fitness center, high speed internet and on-site security.

The closure of the eastbound lane of Green Street between Third and Fourth Street for the College Corner apartment complex should end Tuesday, July 1, 2008, according to a press release put out by Broeren-Russo Construction Inc.

To some students, the construction on Green Street is not having a big impact on traffic.

“I really haven’t seen any problems with it,” said Dave Gleissner, senior in Engineering.

Gleissner said it doesn’t seem like a big deal unless a student is in a hurry to get to class.

“I go by there a lot and maybe once or twice I’ve seen a truck backing in and out, obstructing traffic,” he said

As for the new apartment building, Gleissner said he does not see it hurting anything.

“Maybe it could bring down the rent prices a little bit (by bringing) in some more competition,” Gleissner said.

Yaning Xu, graduate student in Business, said he thinks the new apartment building will be good since it is in the heart of campus.

“I love to see so (many) young people enjoying their (lives),” Xu said.

If one were to go even further east on Green, one would see a torn-up sixth street from Green to Healey. One might also see a truck backing up across Green Street, delaying traffic for that construction site.

For some businesses in the sixth street block it is too early to tell if the construction will be a problem.

David Thate, general manager of Flat Top Grill, said it is the first year Flat Top has been on campus for the summer so it is hard to tell if the amount of business they get now is because of the construction or because most of the students are gone.

“The best people to ask would be (those at) La Bamba,” Thate said. They’ve been here for years.”

Daniel Chavez, a cook for La Bamba who has been working there for nine years, said construction might affect business a little bit but to him it is the same as it has always been.