BYU campus redesign: Phase 1 complete

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There’s light at the end of the tunnel for Phase 1 of BYU’s campus redesign project. Despite doubts about the project being completed on time, Phase 1 is wrapping up on schedule with only a few minor details remaining. The campus redesign is divided into three phases.

The new roundabout outside of the Wilkinson Student Center will hopefully help control traffic and make the area more pedestrian friendly. (Photo by Chris Bunker)
The new roundabout outside of the Wilkinson Student Center will hopefully help control traffic and make the area more pedestrian friendly. (Photo by Chris Bunker)

According to campusdrive.byu.edu, Phase 1 includes the pedestrian plaza between the J. Reuben Clark Building and the Wilkinson Student Center, additional parking near the Harris Fine Arts Center, improved pedestrian access through parking lots and a roundabout drop-off area in front of the WSC.

Phase 2 will include changes to the intersection at 450 East, new sidewalk on 1230 North and a pedestrian drop-off area at the Hinckley Center.

Phase 3 will complete the project with a new roundabout north of the Abraham O. Smoot Building, improved pedestrian access to student housing and additional parking near the Museum of Art.

Phase 1 began May 4 this year and, aside from finishing all the landscaping, was completed just prior to Education Week. Project construction has taken place during the summer and won’t include any construction on campus during the regular school year.

Regarding Phase 1 changes, Carri Jenkins, BYU spokesperson, mentioned that the project will make campus much safer for pedestrians.

“It’s efficient and more safe. We’ve allowed for some pedestrian walkways and having the traffic go in the direction that it’s now routed allows for safety at those pedestrian walkways,” Jenkins said.

Completing the project in just under four months was questioned and even doubted by some administrators and student. The project, however, is finishing right on time thanks to limited complications and cooperative weather over the past few months. According to Jenkins, the only unexpected hiccup was closing Heritage Drive for a few days because of interference with a utility tunnel being worked on at the same time.

The redesign is now a matter of making the transition smooth for students, faculty and visitors. University Police has made arrangements to ensure a smooth transition as far as traffic is concerned. Lt. Arnold Lemmon mentioned BYU plans to increase police presence to ensure safety on campus.

“When this first phase is completed, we’ll have to watch the roundabout drop-off area. We’re not quite sure how people are going to respond to that. We’re going to post a police officer there for a period of time just to manage traffic flow,” Lemmon said.

University Police will also have to ramp up efforts to manage traffic during Education Week, especially with changes to campus just being completed. Lemmon hopes Education Week goers will be patient and understand that University Police do everything possible to make travel and parking convenient.

“We’re just asking Education Week patrons to be patient, and we’re going to do the best we can to facilitate their needs,” Lemmon said. “It will be a challenging week, but there is ample parking. There will be the traditional shuttle through us as well.”

Education Week’s program administrator, Bruce Payne, is confident in things running smoothly and thinks the new changes will only add to the program’s purposes.

“I think it’s a really nice thing, we’re excited that the law school is going to be more accessible,” Payne said. “The roundabout I think, traffic wise, will make it quite nice for our purposes for education week.”

In Payne’s experience, BYU is usually able to pull things off on time, even if it’s last minute. Payne mentioned that many times there’s been construction or other changes happening on campus right before Education Week, but somehow things always work out.

“You think, ‘How is this ever going to be done in time?’ And somehow they’re able to figure it out,” Payne said. “I have confidence that everything will be fine for Education Week. (But if not) we just roll with the punches and make changes.”

Come September, returning students will have an exciting new piece of campus to look forward to, according to Jenkins.

“I think it will be a nice, pleasant surprise for students to come back to,” Jenkins said.

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