UF’s 11 construction projects are bringing change – and frustration – to campus

Blocked streets with “Road Closed” signs and green mesh-covered fences sprawl across the aisles and streets of the campus. This is the campus landscape that UF students face this semester.

The university is under construction of 11 projects of its campus master plan and landscape master plan. The construction, which is expected to be completed in 2023, is part of its wider efforts to improve the UF campus.

However, road closures on campus affected the movement of faculty members and students to work and classes, as well as RTS bus routes and stops.

Currently, 26 bus lines are being diverted due to ongoing construction projects on campus, according to an email from UF’s Transportation and Parking Division. These changes have not yet been updated on the TransLoc app, which still shows pre-construction routes.

Gina Crespo, a 21-year-old UF biology junior, relies on the bus to drop her off near her classes on Museum Drive. However, she said she noticed the route changed as her trip to class got longer.

“I also had the app for the buses and noticed that all the routes had been completely changed but not updated on the actual app so it was a bit confusing,” Crespo said.

She said she understands construction is needed, but thinks students should at least be updated through the app so they can figure out which new bus routes to take.

Once construction on the campus is complete, Crespo said she believes frustration with changing bus lines will subside. From now on, it’s just another burden on the students.

The Campus Connector, Gator Lift, SNAP and Campus Cab shuttle routes also adjusted, closed or relocated several pickup and drop-off areas that were blocked due to construction, according to a TAPS email.

Students and faculty also face travel and parking issues on campus due to sticker enforcement changes and road closures.

Hannah Vander Zanden, assistant professor in UF’s biology department, said she had had difficulty finding parking due to the closure of Museum Road.

“It would be nice to have a campus that was easier for people to get to without a car, but the reality is I have to bring a 2 year old to campus,” she said. “And even though I’m within cycling distance, my husband and I don’t feel comfortable putting it on a bike to do it.”

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Vander Zanden was disappointed with the purpose of some of UF’s new builds. Despite UF’s mission to address energy use and be more sustainable, the suburban lot on Museum Road is blocked for construction of a new power plant. The goal of the UF plant project is to move away from steam production for a combined heat and power approach.

“My realization of this recently was a big disappointment for UF for not planning for dependency and more renewables,” she said. “We have experts on campus who could tell you a lot about the best ways to continue our energy production on campus in a renewable and climate-friendly way. “

Construction would also result in the removal of trees on campus, but UF’s Landscape Master Plan says it will plant more shade trees along walkways and other open spaces on campus to compensate for the losses. losses – what Vander Zanden said she supports.

“I think it’s great that UF is expanding its facilities,” she said. “I think they just need to factor in the losses and also plan for long term sustainability, and I don’t necessarily see that happening.”

All construction projects have been in the planning stage since 2016, UF Construction Manager Frank Javaheri wrote in an email. Now UF is in the next stages of starting construction on some of its long term designs.

Following UF’s plan to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly, the university is transforming its core into a car-free zone and implementing gateway projects.

The university will replace some roads with a brick paved walkway to connect the Reitz Union Lawn to the Plaza of the Americas. The construction section of the Reitz lawn is expected to be completed by next month.

The walkway projects will incorporate more pedestrian access to the campus at the intersection of Newell Drive and West University Avenue, according to the landscape master plan. They will also provide a connection between UF and the Innovation District in downtown Gainesville. A landing area will be built next to Tigert Hall.

The Newell Footbridge is expected to be completed by December and the Northeast Footbridge by March.

A new indoor football training center is also under construction next to the O’Connell Center. The arena, which is expected to be completed by July, will host nearly two and a half football pitches and host all football support activities, including training, nutrition, fitness and medical care.

The university is continuing the process of demolishing the original WRUF radio station house to replace it with a new public security building. The new building, which is expected to be completed by September, will have three floors and renovate the existing Centrex building to 6,000 square feet, Javaheri wrote.

It will house the UF Police Department, the Emergency Management Department and the Emergency Operations Center. The facility will allow officers to answer blue light phone calls, access camera images at entry points and assist with 911 calls using video images if cameras are in the area.

The current UF Student Health Care Center on Fletcher Drive was originally designed in 1931 and will be replaced by a new building housing all of the current infirmary functions, including primary medical and psychiatric care, the women’s clinic, wrote Javaheri. The new infirmary will be located in the southwestern part of the UF campus, according to the campus master plan.

With an expected completion date of October 2022, the plan will also move counseling and wellness services, currently located on Radio Road, to the new SHCC to provide a closer location for students living in housing on the campus.

The Malachowsky Hall for Data Science and Information Technology is also under construction in the heart of the UF campus, and is expected to be completed in April 2023.

The building will house faculty and researchers from the College of Medicine, College of Pharmacy, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, and UF Informatics Institute to conduct their data research collaboratively.

The new Honors College residential complex, a four-building residential complex for specialized undergraduate students, is expected to begin construction later this month.

The project is expected to be completed by July 2023 to provide 1,400 beds for undergraduates and honorary students to meet the increasing demand for campus housing and minimize the number of overwhelmed housing units, wrote Javaheri.

But, as the honorary complex will replace Broward’s outdoor recreation complex, UF RecSports announced that the facility will close permanently on Sunday, upsetting many students.

A student has started a petition hoping to postpone the process of demolishing or closing the outdoor recreation facility until at least two of the area’s projects are completed and there are a new, fully functional facility on the East Campus.

As of September 19, the petition had collected more than 500 signatures.

UF plans to reallocate the outdoor recreation complex at Broward, but the new location is still unknown.

Contact Camila Pereira at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @CamilaSaPereira.

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Camila Pereira

Camila is a third year journalism student and administrative journalist in the university office. When not reporting for The Alligator, Camila is still listening to music and probably drinking tea with milk and honey.

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