‘One of the most congested places on campus:’ New West Mall gateway to be completed December

Gracie Awalt

Instead of receiving free stickers and T-shirts from student organizations tabling on the West Mall, students will pass by trucks carrying concrete as they head to class this fall.

The West Mall construction project will replace the existing fountain with a sign to serve as a formal gateway to campus and is expected to be finished in December.

Construction project manager Tony Guzman said the project has faced few setbacks since they beganin July.

“Challenges are an expected part of the construction process, and one is very lucky when those challenges are minor,” Guzman said. “During this project, we haven’t run across any issues that we haven’t been able to work around to keep us on schedule.”

Guzman said the next step is to add the structural support for new concrete. Once the concrete is added, the fence will move closer to the construction site’s center, widening the sidewalk.

“This is one of the most congested places on campus, with students crossing Guadalupe from the Co-op and the Union having restaurants,” Guzman said. “We’re working really hard to make these pathways open back up as much as we can.”

Guzman said the closed sidewalk near Goldsmith Hall will reopen in a couple of weeks, and there are maps on the site that provide alternative routes for students.

“I’m lucky that my project is in a more concentrated area,” Guzman said. “It doesn’t come anywhere near the Speedway project in terms of how long it’s going to take or the sort of construction management issues that it would require.”

Jetal Bhakta, planning lead for the project, met with students from the class of 2017 monthly a year and a half ago to discuss the design and help the team complete the project.   

“Going through the planning stage was helpful to work out a lot of the issues that may have come up or potentially delayed the project,” Bhakta said. “Getting the University stakeholders’ buy-in and student input was a big part in making sure this was anefficient process.”

Psychology sophomore Madison Boothe said construction on campus has forced her to find new ways to class before, but the project will improve West Mall.

“A new entrance to campus will be better than a fountain that’s never turned on,” Boothe said. “This area will be easier to walk through and the sign will increase the popularity of the area.”