Moody Skybridge lacks purpose, cause

Josephine MacLean

The “Moody Skybridge” will have its official dedication March 31, but it’s already open for use. The reason it got built might give you warm fuzzies: The bridge was built to be a physical and metaphorical connection between the two communication buildings. 

“Our new bridge will help unite our faculty, staff and students, both literally and figuratively, and will become a major new campus landmark,” Jay Bernhardt, dean of Moody College of Communication, said in a statement last Monday.

In fact, the call to unify Moody College’s buildings goes back to former dean Roderick Hart. “My concern was that we would lose that sense of connection with one another. The departments have always gotten along really well,” Hart said in November of 2014.

The bridge cost $3 million to design and build. That money came from two places. The $50 million Moody Foundation grant required that $5 million be set aside for general capital projects. The University agreed to match that $5 million, specifying that the money could only be used for construction or renovation. 

Despite the Communication Administration’s full support, many students feel less than excited about the new bridge. Claire Norris is a radio-television-film freshman who will be having classes in both buildings. “It’s nice to have but it wasn’t necessary to build,” she said. 

The bridge might look very pretty, but it’s built more for form than function. The bridge is big and showy, but not covered from the rain, wind or temperature controlled like the other skybridge on campus between the SAC and CLA. We spend 30 percent of our construction budget to build another crosswalk, and the only improvement is that this one is without cars.

Nick Hundley, Moody College of Communication media contact, could not say how many people were actually expected to use the bridge. “We didn’t cross reference to see who had classes in both [buildings] or who would need the bridge daily.” Hundley said. 

Instead, the committee took some video footage of people crossing at the intersection at Dean Keeton and used it as the basis for the bridge’s necessity. This method, however, makes little sense. While many of the pedestrians are Moody students and professors, many are not. A video gives us no way of knowing who will actually be using this bridge. 

Now that the bridge is build, the Communications school has no plans to do a tally of the foot traffic on the bridge. 

While this bridge looks great and achieves its goal of a visual connection, the research that went into the project was lacking. When deciding what to do with the rest of the construction funds, the Communication School should be more thorough with its research and planning.

MacLean is a journalism freshman from Austin. Follow her on Twitter @maclean_josephine.

Editor's Note: This article has been updated since publication to represent statements made by Nick Hundley in a clearer way.