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Campus expands at unprecedented rate

Pedestrian-friendly campus on the way

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Posted: Sunday, May 5, 2013 6:03 pm | Updated: 7:41 pm, Sun May 5, 2013.

As a dusty haze descended upon campus this semester, from it rose projects like the parking garage and Tiger Stadium renovations — and the dust is far from settling. 

This summer, University construction will quickly move forward with phases of projects planned around summer break and an empty campus.

Upcoming construction projects include the start of the University Student Recreational Complex expansion and redesign; the Faculty Club Hotel renovation; additional Kirby Smith Hall renovations; Student Union renovations; the construction of the new residential hall in the Hart Lot expected to begin in June; and phase two of the office of Parking, Traffic and Transportation’s Easy Streets project, which will aim to make a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly campus.

Major advancements on projects like Easy Streets II, the Tiger Stadium expansion and additional UREC parking have been scheduled around summer break to avoid inconveniencing students with traffic delays and detours.

Phase I of the UREC redesign and expansion project will begin shortly after May 15 and is set to be completed by Nov. 1, according to LSU Director of University Recreation Laurie Braden.

Phase I includes expanding the fields at River Road, going from the current three fields to an eight-field, multi-sport complex.

After Phase I, work will begin over the summer to add 360 additional two-hour parking spaces for UREC visitors, which Braden said will be enforced, along with the construction of new tennis courts.

Projects still in the planning and design phase include the $6.2 million River Modeling Facility, the $15 million renovation of the engineering shops and the $5.6 million French House renovations.

The University’s response to the bus system evaluation is also still in the works.

Students suggested changes for the system in February’s bus evaluation, but those recommendations will not be implemented until fall 2014, according to Gary Graham, director of the Office of Parking, Traffic and Transportation.

Graham said updating the bus system is a long process. The last time the University conducted a bus evaluation was in the spring of 2008, and changes were not made until a new contract with First Transit was signed in August 2009. However, Graham said the process, which takes about a year and a half, is on track with a final report on the evaluation expected at the end of the month.

The final bus evaluation report, based on the student survey, student forums, bus route ride-alongs and meetings between Solstice Transportation Group, the Office of Parking, Traffic and Transportation and other campus groups, will be presented to the students in the fall to finalize what students want and the cost, Graham said.

Graham said the Office of Parking, Traffic and Transportation will work with the new Student Government administration when the evaluation comes back to determine what changes will be made.

SG will discuss and vote on changes to the student fee for buses, Graham said.

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