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UI officials increase signage and alternative routes for construction

BY REBECCA MORIN | AUGUST 26, 2013 5:00 AM

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As more than 30,000 students made their way back to campus, they were greeted not only with the Black and Gold school spirit, but also twisting, alternative routes and echoes of jackhammers — which will continue throughout the rest of the semester.

The University of Iowa is conducting several construction projects, which include the building of a new West Campus residence hall, the School of Music replacement building, a new Children’s Hospital, and projects centered on the UI Main Library.

However, officials maintain that as construction continues, student safety is top priority for the rest of the year.

“The first priority is safety, closely followed by preserving convenience and access. That is why signage, fencing, and electronic and print notices are all used to alert and notify members of the campus community,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said in an email. “With this unprecedented level of construction activity on campus, some level of inconvenience is inevitable, but our Facilities Management staff does a tremendous job of keeping any disruptions to an absolute minimum.”

Construction hours are also set at a time to accommodate students living on the West Side near the new dorm. During the academic school year, construction hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days of the week, and during the non-academic and semester break periods are 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. for all seven days of the week.

UI officials are also adjusting to pedestrian and driver traffic by establishing alternative routes and signage when construction activities have more invasive impacts throughout the year.

“All the construction projects on the UI campus account for continued pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and when or if construction activities require more invasive impacts, we establish alternative routes that keep safety as the top priority,” Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, design, and construction for Facilities Management, wrote in an email.

Although construction hours were not altered during student move-in days, UI officials said they emphasized pedestrian and driver safety, as well as alerted students and families to plan ahead when moving in.

“Our emphasis was on safety for both pedestrians and drivers to exercise caution when moving in, so construction sites have sign-age and fencing to protect pedestrians and drivers to the greatest extent possible," Moore said.

University officials and the Iowa Department of Transportation were also consulted in regards to Dubuque Street construction project during move-in week, said John Yapp, executive director of Metropolitan Planning Organization of Johnson County.

“The university had contacted the students with email and wave-finding signs were used at Dodge Street to direct students to the dorms,” Yapp said. “Iowa City helps by putting out press releases on construction changes.”

However, as the semester continues to move forward from move-in week, officials will continue to take in account student and driver safety and will adjust accordingly.

“During the design phase and then again, throughout the construction phase, we treat adjacent pedestrian pathways carefully,” Lehnertz wrote in an email. “Route interruptions are anticipated during design and the contractors are instructed as to how they address the public environment next to their site.”


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