Federal Way to close for construction

By Lana Groves, Asst. News Editor

Students who drive to class using the road through the U’s golf course will have to find a new route starting Monday.

Many commuters driving on Wasatch Drive usually turn west onto Federal Way to get to the Union and other buildings on Central Campus Drive, but construction plans will reroute drivers to North Campus Drive.

The road, which shaves a couple minutes off driving time by cutting through the golf course, will be closed for construction work on the first of four Utah Science Technology and Research program buildings. The first building will be constructed on the east side of the road, just north of where workers will build a pedestrian route from the Warnock Engineering Building to the U Hospital and medical buildings on upper campus.

Construction workers will place fences and railings to block the road from pedestrians and drivers as they start preparing the area for the groundbreaking ceremony April 22.

“The mass excavation starts around the first of May,” said Tom Christensen, manager of design and construction services. “We’re doing infrastructure and underground utilities after April. The actual construction on the building will probably start in the fall.”

Dylan Gregersen, a sophomore in physics at the U, doesn’t think he’ll mind driving another few minutes to North Campus Drive but said traffic will likely increase.

“When you’re coming from 400 South through campus, it’s hard to get to the Union, especially if you just have that one road,” Gregersen said. “And with putting so many buildings there, it’s going to increase the traffic of people driving and now we’re one road less.”

The four-building complex will house researchers from the USTAR program, which was funded by the Utah Legislature nearly three years ago to stimulate economic development through research.

Michael Kay, assistant dean of finance and planning for the College of Engineering, said even though the college will be impacted by the two-year construction project, the U needs the new buildings because it’s already tight on space.

“It’ll be a challenge for us, but we’re a little battle-hardened already since the Warnock Building took over parking space,” Kay said. “It was a challenge on days when we lost the other roads, but I’ll get in here whether I have to walk or not. This new space is critically needed8212;there’s been so much growth.”

USTAR researchers, who have been trickling into the U during the past two years, have been using vacated research offices and a temporary building near Red Butte Garden until a new building can be constructed.

Building construction will be held off until some utility work on water pipelines and electrical outfitting under the proposed pedestrian walkway and Central Campus Drive can be completed.

Christensen said construction workers will finish road work by the end of the year. The first building’s completion date is tentatively set for fall 2011.

However, some faculty, staff and students who commute by car are concerned about the parking situation.

The construction crews will avoid any parking lots along Central Campus Drive, but Christensen said there will be a few times when about 200 vehicles will need space.

“Right now, the intent is to park on-site or on the old tennis courts,” he said. “They have been converted for contractor parking.”

Kay said if it gets too bad, he plans to take the bus and leave transportation to shuttles, which will most likely go around to North Campus Drive when Federal Way is closed.

“Fortunately, we do live in a time where we can get transportation,” Kay said. “It may be cold, but at least I can get through. All the buses stop in front of the Warnock Building.”

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Tyler Cobb

Federal Way closes Monday as construction begins for USTAR buildings.