By John Rogan
The ongoing construction in what was formerly the cul-de-sac roadway between the Latimer Library, Carey Center, and Placid Hall has been apparent to students walking between classes. According to the director of facilities Douglas Eppley, the construction was enacted "to transform the roadway into a walking plaza."
Eppley stated that the construction area was fenced off for the general safety of students, faculty, and staff, adding that "the fence also established the limits of where the contractors were permitted to be."
Eppley also addressed the caution tape that was set up after the fences were removed.
"The walkway was open to pedestrians and traffic, but the contractor was still working on the brick pavers along the edge of the walkway," Eppley said.
"The yellow tape was used to block off the areas the contractors were working on at that time."
Eppley explained that safety was a primary concern during construction.
In cooperation with the architects and the construction company, he said, they made provisions for a safe work-site environment for both students and construction workers, as well as anyone else who would be in that area.
Eppley said that with no more vehicular traffic and an improved appearance, the central part of campus helps connect the "academic corridor" from the sidewalk along Wimmer Hall to the Dupre Science Pavillion.
Though "there are a few minor work items to be completed," Eppley stated that the walkway is now ready for student and public use.
"[The walking plaza] is now a more welcoming transition to the new Dale P. Latimer Library, the Robert S. Carey Center, our dining facilities, the post office, and other buildings and classrooms central to campus life," he stated.
While FMO is behind the organization of the construction, Rycon Construction Inc. from Pittsburgh is the general contractor with overall responsibility for the project, said Eppley. They employ various subcontractors depending on the type of work being done.
The walkway plaza renovations are part of Rycon Construction's larger Latimer Library Project, which began in June of 2018.
Sophomore Madison Starliper and senior Gregory Bizup shared some of the difficulties they experienced as a result of the construction.
Starliper stated that one of the issues students encountered in crossing from building to building was that there was no direct path to the Carey Center.
"Every direction saw delays or detours, and it made it difficult to navigate campus," Starliper said. "SVC is already small, and then they took away a good chunk of our walking space."
"I suppose they were necessary," said Starliper, in regards to whether the changes the construction enacted were beneficial to campus life. "[But] the timeline for getting things done didn't take students' needs into account."
Bizup stated that he also thought construction accommodations for students could have been made, such as a better route for students to get from Carey to the cafeteria.