Construction transforms Campus Drive area

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Students and faculty were greeted last Monday morning by a brand new sight: gaping holes, cranes and lots of dirt on Campus Drive.

May 6 marked the beginning of a project that will soon transform Campus Drive into a more pedestrian-friendly area. Plans from the university show that this phase of the Campus Drive Project will divert traffic around the law school and put in a large walkway for a pedestrian plaza between the Wilkinson Student Center and the law school.

To make way for the future pedestrian plaza, Campus Drive has now been permanently closed to through traffic. Some other temporary impacts include a reduction in parking near the law school, the closing of entrances to the Wilkinson Student Center on the east side, as well as entrances being closed to the law school on the west side.

Construction north of the Wilkinson Center has significantly changed the landscape of campus. (Photo by Elliott Miller)
Construction along Campus Drive has significantly changed the landscape of campus. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

The project is scheduled to be completed before the end of summer term to avoid impacting the university during busy times like Education Week and the beginning of fall and winter semesters.

“Because construction on the Campus Drive Redesign Project will be limited to spring and summer terms, the primary construction impact on traffic will only occur during these months,” BYU’s project website says.

Thus far, Jacobsen Construction — the company completing the project — has risen to the standard of this huge undertaking in a short time-frame. Kevin Miller, chair of the BYU Construction Management Program faculty, has been impressed by the construction company’s use of both space and time on this project. He is especially impressed that they were able to work so close to the edge of roads and other existing building, and still leave open parking spaces and pedestrian walkways around the project.

“It appears that they are effectively using the project site to meet the project deadlines,” Miller said.

To meet these deadline, construction crews started right away to demolish portions of the area to make way for the future plaza. In just four days, existing roads and structures had been demolished and removed, including the bridge that extended over Campus Drive between the J. Reuben Clark Law School and the Wilkinson Student Center.

A post on BYU’s project website mentions that taking down the whole bridge only took a few hours.

“Demolition of the pedestrian bridge between the law school and the Wilkinson Center began at 8 a.m. today. In just a few hours the bridge, which has been attached to the J. Reuben Clark Law Building since the mid-1970s, was rubble,” the website says.

The quick work on this phase might give the impression that the project is far ahead of schedule, but a quick demolition is part of the plan and allows enough time to complete the building portion of the project before deadlines.

“The demolition phase always is quicker than the rebuilding portion of the project,” Miller said.

Another impressive part of this project, according to Miller, is how effectively the company has used its technology and equipment to successfully tear everything down and lay a foundation for future construction.

“It’s impressive how they have organized all the equipment throughout the project,” Miller said.

Some of this equipment can include around six excavators and up to three cranes working at the same time at different work

Construction work along Campus Drive quickly takes down the area. (Photo by Elliott Miller)
Machinery along Campus Drive quickly demolishes the area. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

areas along the project, which has allowed the construction crew to simultaneously tear down and build throughout the large area of the project.

Most of the parking lot near the law school has been closed off so that the construction crews can continue to work and park their machines. However, after this phase of the project is complete, the area will be open for parking and in general, the project is supposed to provide more parking.

“The purpose of the redesign of Campus Drive is not to increase parking on campus. However, it is expected that the Campus Drive Redesign Project will result in a slight net gain of parking spaces on campus,” BYU’s Campus Drive Project website says.

For more information about the entire construction project, visit campusdrive.byu.edu

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