Campus News Student Government

Sidewalk renovations potential headache for Summer 2019 students

Student Government President Cameron Barrett reached out to Facilities and pushed for smoother sidewalks in hopes it will improve the looks and safety of the campus. | Courtesy of Facilities Planning and Construction

A tentative schedule has been set to repave the sidewalks along University Drive and in front of the Student Center after talks between Facilities and the Student Government Association.

The current sidewalk is paved with two different finishes. One is an older, bumpy pebble and the other is newer concrete. In multiple places along the walkways, the sidewalk is cracked or uneven and even has a metal plate in the middle of one section of the sidewalk.

“I hated the fact that when new students got here they would walk past the 9/11 memorial, they walk past the four- or five-star Hilton hotel across the street from our amazing Student Center we have, and all the while they’re walking on cracked-as-shit, plated concrete sidewalk that’s uneven and tilted,” said SGA President Cameron Barrett.

University Drive and the area in front of Student Center South is one of the most high-traffic areas on campus. A major renovation along the street has the potential to disrupt this traffic. With the plans in the final stage of production, Facilities is unsure of the full scope of the problems the project will cause.

“Portions of the sidewalk will be closed during the repairs,” Assistant Director of Customer Service for Facilities/Construction Management Jacquie Vargas said. “The campus will be notified of potential impacts through the Facilities communication process.”

The University is preemptively cutting down on the amount of people who could possibly be inconvenienced by the project by scheduling it for summer 2019. A specific start date has not been set yet nor has a contractor been hired, making it impossible to know if the sidewalk will be completed in time for the Fall 2019 semester.

“It’ll be inconvenient, I don’t want to lie,” Barrett said. “They’re going to do it in sections to try and limit the inconvenience as much as possible, but for basically the summer you’re going to have to walk around or jump over.”

Although Barrett says he knows that many students will not be overjoyed at the project, there are some students who will appreciate smoother walkways.

Those who get around campus on skateboards, longboards, bikes, scooters and even rollerblades will find smoother sidewalks are safer and easier to glide over. Digital media sophomore Kelis Woods, who skateboards everywhere on campus, is looking forward to a smoother ride.

“If it’s going to be smoother, then that’s perfect,” Woods said. “Now I can just speed through instead of stopping because there’s a lot of places around campus that are bumpy and you have to get off your board.”

Talks for the project began after Barrett went to a Facilities meeting after learning about a discretionary budget they are allotted each year. Even after his idea of running on the platform of getting smoother sidewalks got scrapped, Barrett still wanted to see what he could do about it.

“I talked with Facilities and they told me that each year they have a discretionary budget for special projects,” Barrett said. “They essentially said this was the first and only time a student government person has ever even cared to go to Facilities meetings.”

Facilities agreed the overhaul of the sidewalks along such a busy campus spot were needed.

“The sidewalks in this area are in need of significant repairs due to age, weathering and differential settlement (uneven surfaces),” Vargas said.

Outside of this renovation, there are no plans to overhaul all the sidewalks on campus due to the cost and the other plans Facilities has for buildings on campus. The construction planned for sections of sidewalk along University Drive alone will cost $150,00, Vargas said.

Although nothing outside of this current job is planned, some students still hope the sidewalks will be more wheeled-pedestrian friendly.

“Every place around campus should be smooth,” Woods said.

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