Make way for construction on campus streets

By Walbert Castillo

Campus streets at the University will be expecting a new makeover starting in May 2016. The $6.5 million renovation will include a series of five projects, which span from First Street to Fourth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue on campus.

Tom Bruno, at-large city council member, expressed his enthusiasm with the project since the design and construction will provide more bus shelters to the community, as well as rebuilt street pavements, bike paths and sidewalks. 

The federal funds for the upcoming infrastructure project were given to the University after the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District applied, said Dave Clark, Champaign city engineer.  

“The $6.5 million is more than enough to start the first two projects; once we reassess how much money we have left, we’ll start with project three,” Clark said. “But if there is not enough money left over, we’ll just stop there; it’s a pay-as-you-go system, we don’t want to move forward with the next project unless we have the money for it.”

However, since the University is not considered a highway authority governing body, the Illinois Department of Transportation requires Champaign and the University to undergo an intergovernmental agreement.

The city council unanimously approved the agreement on Nov. 14, which binds them with the Board of Trustees. The intergovernmental agreement states Champaign must be held responsible for jurisdiction of each of the five University projects until each is completed.

Projects one and two will begin in May 2016, followed by the third project in 2017, said Stacey DeLorenzo, Transportation Demand Management coordinator for the University. 

There are three factors that determine the priority of street work, DeLorenzo said. In order to determine the priority of street work into these projects, she stated three factors: pavement condition index, volume of traffic and locations on campus as well as patrons served by the street segment.

Since the first three projects are on campus streets with no commercial stores present, Clark said the renovations would not affect businesses in the area. However, project four is near the I-Hotel. Clark said construction for the project would depend on how much money is left over from the other three projects. 

Walbert can be reached at [email protected]