With the recent commotion on College Drive, students have seen construction workers, trucks, shovels, flaggers, piles of asphalt and a plethora of orange cones. The ruckus has left students confused.
Joe Royer, executive director of facilities and property management, explained that the work being done is in preparation for more road construction in the future.
“There is a street renovation project for College Drive between University Boulevard and Fifth Street slated to begin May 13 and be completed by approximately August 16 of this summer,” explained Royer. “Since that work will be happening, some underground utility work in the street is also taking place. They are taking this opportunity to replace the gas line that runs down the middle of the street with a new one.”
Royer explained that the underground work is being completed by the university’s natural gas provider, Vectren, and it should be finished before the end of the semester.
“Weather permitting, they hope to be done by April 14,” he said. “The vast majority of the street renovation project is taking place during the summer months while most of our students are gone.”
Although some students feel inconvenienced by the current construction, Royer believes that the final product will be well worth the annoyance of the noise and added commuting time.
“I believe the end result of the inconvenience will be a beautiful street that is much safer to cross than it is in its current state,” said Royer. “I believe the contractors out there now are doing their best to keep as many pathways open during their work as they can.”
The reconstruction of College Drive has been strategically scheduled to start the week after graduation and wrap up the week before freshman move-in week.
The summer construction project has been carefully thought through and planned, and it is intended significantly update to the road and its layout. In fact, the road will be completely redone.
“This renovation will be somewhat similar to what was done on University Boulevard some years ago and on a portion of Fifth Street more recently,” Royer said. “While this renovation will not provide a grassy median such as the one on University Boulevard, there will be a new street surface, sidewalks, curbs and lighting.”
Because of the potholes, and missing chunks of asphalt, College Drive will be completely reconstructed. Royer explained that parking spots will be removed from the west side of the street, allowing more room for improvements.
According to Royer, “The purpose of the project, as was the case for the other two streets, is to enhance pedestrian safety.”
It is estimated that the College Drive renovation project will cost less than $1 million. The majority of the cost will be covered by what is left of a federal grant for road renovations from the 1990s. The rest will be split between the university and the city of Anderson.
For students, this construction project is solving problems and calming minds. Sophomore Robby Woolums offered his input on the topic.
“It used to be that you couldn’t go a second without hitting potholes,” said Woolums. “That made you nervous for the stuff in your car or what it could do to your car. I didn’t want to be casually driving through AU and then have to wait for roadside assistance for a popped tire or a broken bumper.”
Woolums explained that since college students typically do not have the budget for unexpected car repairs, he is glad that the potholes and road are being renovated. He added that he appreciates the project’s focus on pedestrian safety.
“I’m glad that it will be safer for pedestrians,” he said. “The pedestrian safety part of this project is very important. The lines are faded on the road, cars are swerving to avoid potholes and the potholes on the edge of the street are so big that students have to literally jump over them. The crosswalk is out of the way, so most students resort to jaywalking, which is dangerous on that road.”
In Woolums’ opinion, the summer construction has been neccessary for a considerable time.
“This is much needed,” Woolums said, “not only because of the damage the road can do to cars, but also because of student safety.”