The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Lack of publicity to blame for U’s traffic woes

By Jonathan Deesing

I’ve lived in Utah for 21 years. I spent many hours on campus prior to enrolling in college, and I am in my fourth year at the U. Even so, this morning, I got lost. On campus.

Imagine my delight when lots that I had parked in for half a decade were closed. Roads that I had driven ruts into were nonexistent. Buildings older than my parents were just holes in the ground.

Construction is a terribly annoying process, but it’s a necessary evil. Lack of information about it is not.

The U seems to be caught in the epicenter of a perfect storm of construction projects, and the timing couldn’t be worse. This year, international students, freshmen and transfer students all have the delightful challenge of finding their way around a school in which seniors are now getting lost. At least six major projects are under way, with more to come.

However, this is not necessarily the result of sadistic administrators aiming to further stress out students. Indeed, the installation of a new sewer line that will close the Business Loop for a month was supposed to be completed during the summer. Unfortunately, the obtuse officials at the Utah Department of Transportation granted a permit that didn’t allow the U to install it until the middle of September.

Darrin Blaisdell, geographic information system manager for the U, said that several things coincided to make this construction correlation such a horrifying mess. He said that some projects finally got funding while others started in the summer and could not be finished before the start of the school year.

“Most of the projects (the U) could do in the summer, they would, but it’s not realistic,” he said.

Two such projects, Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative and the destruction and reconstruction of two Business Loop buildings, will take at least three to four years to be completed. USTAR is a project championed by the Utah Legislature with the intent of bolstering the state’s economy by creating more technological infrastructure in state-funded universities such as the U and Utah State. This infrastructure includes adding a 12-foot high tunnel from the western-most remnant of the golf course to the HPER building.

The Business Loop is subject to a number of construction projects, including the demolition and reconstruction of the Madsen and Garff buildings.

As a whole, these plans have been in development for years and their timing was an unavoidable coincidence. However, the problem students are facing is not necessarily the construction, but the lack of communication about what areas are now off-limits.

One of Blaisdell’s main responsibilities as GIS manager is to maintain the U’s construction website, constructionimpacts.utah.edu. It is updated at least weekly8212;sometimes daily8212;with information about which areas of the U are unavailable to either cars or pedestrians. It is helpful, concise and up to date. Unfortunately, the site has been poorly marketed and as a result, most students have never heard about it. A single e-mail containing this link was sent out last Friday to students’ UMail accounts, but beyond that, information is slim. The U’s home web page features nothing concerning construction, and a search of the word “construction” brings up no information of consequence, not even Blaisdell’s site.

If the U hopes to attract prospective students, it needs to inform students well enough to find their classes, their parking spots and still-existing roads without a treasure map and Nicolas Cage.

Blaisdell said that “we’re in a big phase of construction right now to improve the university in terms of facilities.” Lucky us.

[email protected]

Jonathan Deesing

Willus Branham

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