On-campus construction projects are under way

Anna Bellegante

With a majority of students gone, summer is the prime season for construction on Iowa State’s campus. 

Facilities Planning and Management submits a five-year Capital Improvements Plan each year to the Iowa Board of Regents prioritizing specific construction projects of $1 million or more. After the Board reviews the plans from all the state universities, it submits its own prioritized plan to be approved for the state budget.

David Miller, associate vice president for facilities, says the cost for construction varies each year depending on the size of the projects. For instance, the Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering Complex is a $74.5 million project, but those big-budget projects are a rare occurrence.

“We’re trending away from big projects and getting at some much needed smaller projects that are going to be very beneficial to the university,” Miller said.

Some of the smaller improvement projects under way include grass restoration, sidewalk closures and street repairs.

Les Lawson of Campus Services said grass restoration began in the spring, but is now a “losing battle” due to the heat and drought. Osborn Drive has been the main focus for reseeding, but other areas of focus include Lake LaVerne and Central Campus.

“We are trying to get [campus] looking as good as we can before the students come back,” Lawson said.

Lawson said grass restoration occurs annually and costs between $12,000 and 15,000. Campus Services wants to limit the use of signs and chain fences since they diminish the aesthetic quality of campus. Instead, natural barriers such as shrubs and other plants are used to divert people from walking on the grass in certain areas.

“Grass is made to walk on but not with 30,000 people,” Lawson said.

Alternate routes are needed not only to avoid grass restoration areas but sidewalk closures as well.

Various sidewalks around campus have been closed due to maintenance and other repair work. One of the major sidewalk closures is the intersection south of Horticulture Hall. This area has been closed to support the utility infrastructure changes that are needed to support Troxel Hall, which should complete construction by 2013. Many current sidewalk closures are expected to open when students return in the fall.

In addition to lawn and sidewalk repairs, street repairs have been common around campus this summer.

Dean McCormick of Design and Construction Services said campus has been a “sea of orange cones” this summer, and he encouraged people to remain informed about various projects in the community.

“We work very hard to communicate when we’re going to do major closures … that will impact people,” McCormick said.

Osborn Drive is becoming a more formal entry to campus with the brick and cast stone structures that have assumed a university standard. The entrance gate has been refigured and equipment is being updated. McCormick expects Osborn Drive to be open again within a week.

Road repairs and replacements have been under way on Beach Avenue, Wallace Road, Stange Road and Union Drive. While Beach Avenue should also be open within a week, Union Drive isn’t expected to open again until July 25.

McCormick suggests reviewing information about road closures and encourages anyone with questions to call Facilities Planning and Management.

“I know it’s inconvenient,” McCormick said. “I just urge everybody to drive carefully in construction zones, be aware of construction workers and equipment in the area and obey the signs.”

For more information about road closures, please visit the Facilities Planning and Management website.