Fabiana Peña Feeney
Construction on Speedway, which began in October, is part of the University’s 2012 Campus Master Plan and will introduce a mall area on the east side of campus.
The Speedway Mall Project aims to make walking and biking easier in the area, according to their website. The mall will serve as an outdoor space for students to talk, study or engage in group activities. The project plans to put food trucks in the new area, and have more bike racks and limited vehicle activity after the mall is finished.
As of now, the west side of Speedway from the 2000 to the 2200 block is under construction, but construction will expand to other areas of campus throughout the remaining phases of the process. According to the website, the first phase is occupying about 8.8 acres, and the finished mall will expand from Inner Campus Drive to beyond the Perry-Castañeda Library.
“The current fencing defines the construction limits for Phase 1, but there are places where east and west pedestrian and vehicle traffic crosses the work limits,” David Rea, associate vice president of Campus Planning and Project Management, said. “When work needs to happen in these areas, space that is currently outside the construction fence will be affected.”
Douglas Hannah, management assistant professor, said he rides his bike throughout campus. While he believes the construction is inconvenient, he is looking forward to the introduction of the Speedway Mall.
“Construction’s pretty lousy, but having outdated facilities is also kind of lousy,” Hannah said. “I wish it were going faster, but that’s about it.”
While construction currently poses inconveniences such as narrower roadways for bikers, Rea said the project should not cause significant traffic concerns.
“Everything possible is being done to minimize the impact of this construction on campus,” Rea said. “Bicyclists seem to be adapting well.”
Blanca Gamez, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, said the department has worked to limit mobility disturbances, but students might have to use alternative routes around the construction site. She said bus routes and schedules have not been affected at this stage in the project.
“Much like any other construction projects on or around campus, there are disruptions to the community,” Gamez said. “PTS has worked with various stakeholders across campus to minimize any disruptions to the campus including parking- and mobility-related concerns.”
Mark Brooks, project manager for Campus Planning and Project Management, said the construction process occurs in five stages. Currently, the project is in its first stage of development, which the project team plans to complete by May 26.
Brooks said the last stage is scheduled to finish in December 2017, but the construction schedule could be delayed if the University is able to fund new domestic water and sanitary sewer pipes, which could reduce the cost of expensive repairs later on.
“The University builds in allowances for these types of occurrences, but they could still have an impact on the construction schedule,” Brooks said.