Anyone who has been in town this Summer can attest to the various detours, traffic cones and temporary fencing that has infiltrated the University since the completion of final exercises in May. Though the recent construction has surely affected the Summer students’ walking routes, the real question is: What will U.V.a look like in the Fall? We have all learned to get used to a little construction in our daily lives and next year does not look like it’s going to be an exception.
The first change that is sure to disappoint students is the City of Charlottesville’s project to provide railroad fencing on the western side of the railroad tracks between Rugby Road and 14th Street NW. A 7′ tall welded steel fence is set to be erected in honor of failed police enforcement efforts to actually do something about the problem of the public (re: students) who continuously ignore the “no trespassing” signs that have ineffectively “educated the public into stopping the practice” of crossing the railroad tracks. The project proposed is set to be completed either late this Summer or early this fall. While the project will certainly limit ticketed violations in the area and keep the police engaged in more serious activities than chasing students across the tracks, the wall will most likely be an unpopular addition to those living in this area next year.
The wall project is not the only big change to anticipate next year. VDOT has put a restriction into effect that changes the weight allowed on the McCormick Road Bridge to only 8 tons. The new weight limit has caused UTS to change bus routes to detour the area until permanent repairs on the bridge are made or the bridge is replaced. The Northline, University Loop and the Central Grounds Shuttle will all be forced to detour around the bridge to ensure safety. The disruption is estimated to take several months and if the necessary construction on the bridge is to take place, it calls to question whether there is a chance that we will have to find a detour around the area as well.
New Cabell Hall renovations are also still taking place and will remain this way throughout the entire year. Phase I is not set to be complete until August 2013, so make sure to allow time on the first day of class to figure out the maze that is sure to be Cabell next year. Old Cabell is seeing changes as well, with an access ramp being added to the front of the building. This construction is set to end in August so while New Cabell is in various phases of construction, the new additions to Old Cabell will at least provide something to look at before encountering the various detours that will be faced walking through Cabell.
There is something to look forward to next year, too. Summer repairs were made on the Lawn chimneys to install fire suppression systems in all of the rooms before school begins. This means that by the time cold weather arrives, students will be able to see the familiar sight of firewood lining the Lawn walkways, enjoy the smell that takes over the Lawn when the temperatures start to drop and probably even get to sit in front of a few Lawn room fires, too. The Range is not scheduled for as early a completion as the Lawn, but Carol Wood assured Range student’s in a statement, that completion should be expected by the time cold weather arrives. In other Lawn related construction news, the decades old Magnolia trees that were set for destruction have been promised another chance during this wave on construction. It looks like the petition has achieved its goal for now.
Finally, the last big project on grounds, the Newcomb Hall renovation and dining expansion, has been underway since the beginning of Summer Session I. Luckily for students, the Bank of America is set to open once again in the Fall. First floor access is also expected to be restored in August. Though students will have these benefits, the Construction of the new dining location, called Newcomb Too will be underway this week. The temporary dining facility will be in front of Peabody and Monroe Halls and will feature a 150-foot-long, 60-foot-wide, climate-controlled structure that will have glass side panels and carpet. It is expected to hold 600-700 students and will be open starting mid-August and will remain open while Newcomb renovations continue. The semester-long structure promises the “same incredible menu options, your Favorite Hoos, and the vibe you dig.”
It’s clear that students arriving in the Fall have a lot of changes to anticipate regarding construction. Some will be inconvenient, some will be welcomed and some will be just be annoying, whatever category they fall into, they are all unavoidable so make sure to read up on the impact and get ready for some massive changes next semester.