University continues on-campus construction


Lily Katz

Construction on Matthews Ave. obstructs the bike path and sidewalk in Urbana on Aug. 30.

By Aaron Navarro, Assistant Daytime Editor

Starting Thursday, one lane of Green Street between Third and Second Street will be closed due to a construction project.

The closure begins Sept. 1 and will extend through Dec. 1, according to a press release by the City of Champaign. Westbound traffic will be concentrated in the center lane of Green Street.

Closures or reroutes on campus due to construction is not an uncommon thing, mainly due to the nature and frequency of these projects.

In January alone, five construction projects were started in five College of Engineering facilities, said Facilities and Services Manager of Communications and External Relations Steve Breitwieser.

These five facilities were the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, the Seitz Materials Research Laboratory, Loomis Laboratory, the Engineering Sciences Building and the Superconductivity. All five of these projects contribute to a set of energy performance contracting projects that will guarantee more than $41 million in cost avoidance, Breitwieser said.

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“[These projects] will guarantee more than $41M in cost avoidance over the next 20 years and reduce the campus deferred maintenance backlog by an estimated $15M,” Breitwieser said.

Over the summer, 35 different buildings had various renovations and updates made to them. Overall, 12 outright construction projects were completed, one being the new Wassaja Hall in the Ikenberry Commons area.

Other completed summer projects include Memorial Stadium masonry work and improvements to First and Fourth streets with pavement reconstruction, sidewalk ramps and new LED lighting and traffic signals.

Currently, construction is going on in the Natural History Building and is anticipated to be finished in early 2017.

The project has a $76 million budget and will result in an updated facility with new classrooms and laboratories, amongst other renovations, in order to provide necessary controls for the laboratory spaces.

“A primary focus of the design phase was to upgrade the building exterior, while maintaining its original appearance in order to provide temperature and humidity controls required in new laboratory spaces,” Breitwieser said.

Another project in progress is the renovation of the Everitt Laboratory. The building will become the home for the Department of Bioengineering, Breitwieser said. This $55 million project will be in the construction through 2018.
Students may run into this construction walking across campus, sometimes blocking off sidewalks and paths in renovation.

Right now, various streets and sidewalks by Dorner & Goodwin, Noyes Laboratory, the Materials Research Lab and the Everitt Laboratory are closed off, with some projected to be closed as soon as this October and others January 2018.

Breitwieser said that Facilities and Services makes every attempt to minimize these inconveniences and put specific barricades, fencing and signage in these zones to reroute both pedestrians and vehicles.

“Each construction site is unique and multiple factors must be taken into consideration when determining transportation mode impact and how to provide appropriate rerouting,” Breitwieser said. “Notifications of closures are communicated to the campus community.”

However, some students are not fans of the inconvenience construction can create on campus. Alex Merza, senior in Engineering, said that Everitt’s renovation specifically is annoying to travel around.

Edison Orellana is a recent graduate in Geographic Information Science who believes that these constructions are an “eyesore.”

“[It’s] extremely annoying,” Orellana said. “Construction on campus buildings seems so slow compared to some apartment complexes that get erected in a year or two. Ahem, Natural History Building.”

Marketing Manager for MTD Jan Kijowski acknowledges how these construction projects also affect MTD reroutes, saying that MTD deals with these issues community-wide.

“MTD must respond to construction and other activities which disrupt traffic flows on a routine basis,” Kijowski said. “MTD has close relationships with the Cities and University public works teams who advise us whenever there is planned construction so that planned reroutes can be made.”

These MTD reroutes occur not only with construction but with traffic accidents or festivals and events such as the recent Urbana Sweetcorn Festival and the annual Illinois Marathon.

Kijowski said MTD has a set of steps to react to these reroutes, including social media notifications, operators on affected routes being notified and the MTD’s Operations Supervisor posting notifications at stops that will not be served during the reroute.

“MTD takes seriously anything that disrupts normal operations impacting customers. It is critical that customers be made aware of any service changes that impact their normal travel so we are very nimble and make notifications in a very timely fashion,” Kijowski said.

Currently the only MTD service change on campus is a result of the Everitt Laboratory construction, resulting in a move of the Green and Wright bus stop to Wright and Springfield.

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