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Friday, July 1, 2022

Construction

Campus Lighting Project experiences delays


Juana Garcia/The Cougar

It would appear the University intends to capitalize on the nocturnal nature of Cougars, as the much-awaited Campus Lighting Project has had the majority of its construction delayed until at least 2023, according to a PowerPoint presented to SGA at their last meeting of the spring session held Wednesday, May 4.

The presentation, titled “University of Houston Capital Assistance Construction Project and a Plan for the Centennial” was shown to the Board of Regents. It details the University’s planned construction projects for the coming years, including the Centennial Plan 2027, an update to the original master plan laid out by architects Sydney J. Hare and S. Herbert Hare in 1937.

Included in the plan are updates to walkways on campus, landscaping improvements as well as five gateway projects designed to provide a clear indicator for university entrances.

The University’s stated goal is to have these projects completed by 2026, in time for UH’s 100-year celebration in 2027, said executive director for university architecture, facilities planning and space management Christa Rieck.

“The president charged us with transforming this campus for our centennial celebration in 2027,” Rieck said. “The main projects that actually got approved are our University Dr. and Cullen Blvd. projects, gateway monuments, landscaping improvements, Centennial Plaza, and campus lighting.”

Approval does not necessarily mean Cougars will be seeing anything substantial any time soon however, as the presentation lists everything but the Cullen Blvd. improvements as being in the design phase through 2022, with 2023 listed as design/construction and 2024 as the target year for construction exclusively.

While the Cullen Boulevard project does include updated lighting and security standards, mainly for the parking lots located on Wheeler and E. Cullen Blvd., the bulk of the lighting project remains in the design phase.

The project’s delay comes as a result of COVID-19 complications, says David Oliver, UH senior associate vice president for facilities and construction management. Though he added the University is dedicated to addressing students’ needs on campus and is working tirelessly to address security issues.

“UH has committed to spending $18m to upgrade campus lighting systems on campus through dedicated projects,” Oliver said. “This is in addition to the ongoing efforts through the annual Walk in the Dark, FIXIT and ongoing maintenance activities to improve and maintain the lighting infrastructure on campus.”

While campus improvements are always appreciated, crime at the University has always been an issue. According to an article posted on chron.com in 2019, the FBI ranked UH as one of the most dangerous universities in Texas.

Noel Manning, a sophomore studying music education said that while he thinks the campus is generally safe, it could definitely use some additional lighting.

“There’s plenty of cops around and everything,” Manning said. “The only thing for me is that some of the areas back towards the older part of campus don’t have a whole lot of light.”

Manning is not alone in this belief, as students on social media have echoed similar concerns. Several other posts appear across various platforms, with the majority advising students to stay vigilant while traversing the campus at night.

For the UH student body, the Campus Lighting Project is a much-anticipated improvement. With over 70 cases of theft and 10 assaults reported in the past 60 days, improved lighting and security could mean the difference between being a student and being a victim.

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