University of Tennessee students and faculty will begin their fall semester in just a few days, followed soon by the Volunteer football season. This year, large construction projects will change the way many get through campus.
Madison Nolen is returning to UT as a senior this year, and her younger sister, Makenzie, will be starting as a freshmen. The two toured campus Thursday to map out their walk to class, and learn about the road changes.
"We started at the dorms," said Madison, who had to second guess her way through construction. "So we had to go around and cut back to the 'Strip' and walk down the 'Strip' to get back to the Hill."
UT officials took advantage of the summer months, and moved forward on several maintenance projects on campus. However, other large-scale projects will continue throughout the school year. Those include a new University Center and a residence hall.
"There was a joke going around, it would have been easier to tell people what streets were open, rather than what streets were closed," joked Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Jeff Maples.
UT officials are also preparing for the large crowds expected during football season.
"It's something we're going to have to adapt [to] as we go through the season. I think we have a good plan in place," Maples said. "It's a very congested area, but we will pull back the construction fence on game days, seven Saturdays, to expand for traffic and pedestrians."
According to a release from UT, the following roads will impacted by construction:
- One lane of Andy Holt Avenue just west of the pedestrian walkway is closed as part of the Melrose Avenue residence hall construction, but along this section of road, the sidewalk is open only on the south side. The remaining lane is one way westbound.
- The section of Andy Holt Avenue next to the University Center and the Haslam Business Building is permanently closed. It will become a pedestrian plaza as part of the new Student Union complex.
- Chamique Holdsclaw Drive will be closed from Pat Head Summitt Street to Lake Loudoun Boulevard until December 2012 for the addition to the Lawson Athletic Center Football Training Facility.
The east sidewalk on Pat Head Summitt Street north of Volunteer Boulevard will remain closed for ongoing work on the music building.
UT expects slower pedestrian traffic once classes begin due to construction through the center of campus. The following routes have been recommended to avoid the Student Union site:
- To reach the north side of the Hill or north of Cumberland Avenue, the best route is to walk north along Melrose Place, then east between Hodges Library and the Tyson House, cross Volunteer Boulevard north of the Haslam Business Building, then north to Cumberland Avenue, then east toward the University Center.
- To reach the south side of the Hill or Neyland Stadium, the best route is via the newly paved pedestrian path on the north side of Staff 9 lot near Neyland Stadium.
- A pedestrian pathway now runs from Volunteer Boulevard through the section of Andy Holt Avenue that is permanently closed to traffic. This path provides access to the Hill. Bicyclists should walk their bikes through this area.
Several parking lots have been added to UT's inventory and other lots have been changed to accommodate student, faculty and staff needs. For more information, visit the UT's campus parking website.