Roads surrounding the Memorial Student Center (MSC) are currently in phase one of a four phase construction project, resulting in road rerouting for drivers.
During this first phase, Joe Routt Blvd. is closed from Wellborn Road to the entrance of Cain Garage. Access to the MSC loading dock is being maintained for authorized vehicles. Construction began on Dec. 18 to remove concrete and install new drainage on Joe Routt Blvd. and the south end of Gene Stallings Boulevard. The section from Joe Routt Boulevard to Gene Stallings Boulevard costs $1.7 million and will be completed in August. The portion from West Lamar from the Bell Tower to the Coke building will begin at a later date and cost $1.5 million.
The roadways surrounding the MSC have been rerouted to alleviate traffic, according to Peter Lange, Associate Vice President of Transportation Services.
“We have opened the route to George Bush Drive from Cain Garage via Joe Routt Boulevard starting at 4 p.m. daily and on weekends, a route normally gated and restricted from public traffic,” Lange said. “We have also suggested an alternate route to bypass the Bell Tower for customers leaving the garage and heading northbound on Wellborn.”
While phase one is focused on making general improvements, the later phases will have more significant changes according to Lange.
“Phases two through four reconstruct Gene Stallings,” Lange said. “There are multiple phases for Stallings to maintain access to the MSC and Cain Garage at all times. When the project gets to the north end of Gene Stallings, traffic will enter the area from Joe Routt.”
When the project is completed there will be major adjustments to the area’s parking, according to Lange.
“The project will eventually remove the on-street parking on Gene Stallings Boulevard. and West Lamar St. when finished and create a plaza on the north side of the MSC, on Lamar Street, where the circle drive exists today,”Lange said.
While the construction has caused some inconvenience, Lange said the improvements were necessary.
“The streets were in such disrepair that they were in need of renovation,” Lange said. “The one block section of Joe Routt Boulevard was the only portion of that street that had not been renovated recently, so the project will complete that roadway. The sidewalks and other infrastructure in the area were not sufficient for the influx of traffic that will come with the new 21st Century Classroom building. The project will add much wider sidewalks, improved bike lanes, new lighting and fix an ongoing drainage issue.”
Lange said the Transportation Department has worked diligently to ensure a smooth process throughout the project.
“Any time a street is closed, it creates challenges,” Lange said. “Bus routes and traffic in and out of Cain Garage have been delayed. Coordination with the Memorial Student Center was critical to ensure deliveries can be made at their loading dock. We regularly communicate with customers who park in the area and with building occupants affected by the project.”
Lange said he encourages drivers to follow road signs and be safe around the construction zone.
“Use caution when navigating the area, pay attention to signage, be patient, and allow more time to travel through the area.” Lange said. “Remember, there will be significant improvements to the area that will greatly benefit the campus when this project is completed.”