By ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Prior to returning to classes after winter break, students were informed, via email, about construction they should expect upon their arrival for the Spring 2016 term. Despite the notification, several students are finding themselves in difficult situations.
“It’s so annoying to drive through campus,” freshman Amanda Schreiber said. “I live in the Barrymore Hotel so going from West Cass Street to North Boulevard feels like a mission.”
Due to the university’s significant and frequent outbursts of rain, officials seek to avoid campus flooding by more effectively using the sewer systems for stormwater, according to information that Dean of Students, Stephanie Krebs, obtained from Vice President of Administration and Finance Richard Ogorek.
One of the three storm water management project sites is on Brevard Avenue between ResCom, Palm Apartments and Brevard Hall. The relative elevation of the street was modified to control the flow of rainwater to sewer inlets.
Another site is located in the Plant Hall parking lot where old stormwater lines have failed and have collapsed over the years. At the south end of the parking lot there will be new concrete pipes installed. There are also new storm water pipes being installed at the third site, crossing University Drive and west of Plant Hall.
“The construction in the Plant Hall parking lot is so frustrating because there are times where I’d like to quickly stop at the Vaughn Center for a to-go meal, or stop at the campus store for a quick shopping fix and I’d usually park my car in the parking lot,” Antenajia Carter, sophomore sports management major, said. “But with this new construction, I’m stuck putting myself at risk for a parking ticket because I’d illegally park my car on the side of the Vaughn Center while I quickly run in.”
While there are several sites of road construction throughout the campus, UT is still in the process of its largest construction project, the new McNiff Fitness Center, which has an estimated completion date for summer 2016, which is an extension to their previous mid-spring 2016 completion goal.
The new fitness center consists of two parts. Part one consists of two floors that will total 40,000 feet and part two will be an additional 20,000 feet, which will be space for classrooms and labs for fitness-related programs.
“For someone that likes to take photographs of the campus, it sucks not being able to because of the construction always in the background,” senior criminal justice major, Vanessa Sylvain said. “But I know once the construction is finally done, my images of the campus will be worth the wait.”
In addition to the new projects, improvements to the Spaulding Drive entry to the Thomas Parking Garage are still being worked on and are predicted to be completed at the end of February.
“I recognize that construction on-campus can be a challenge, but it is construction that leads to much needed campus improvements that support the student experience,” Krebs said. “I encourage students, faculty, and staff to be patient and know that the end result of the construction will be worth it.”
In addition to the construction on the roads and of the McNiff Fitness Center, the university is also working on several other construction projects such as the construction of the West River Trail on the west bank of the Hillsborough River, which will connect Plant Park to Cass Street, continuing renovations in McKay Hall, and much more.
“We are constantly trying to improve our campus so I believe that when our construction projects overlap, it is a sign that great campus improvements are in the works,” Krebs said.
From 2015 to 2016, UT has spent $460 million in campus construction such as the new Innovation and Collaboration building that opened Fall 2015.
“I’m not sure if the amount of money UT is putting into construction is worth it just yet,” said Landon Burt, sophomore allied health major. “But I’m eager to see the end result.”