Students will start noticing traffic and construction changes on campus as summer approaches. Workers are driving stakes into the ground in certain areas and spots are being cleared for construction equipment.
Northern Kentucky University is preparing for a new construction project for Johns Hill Road which, when completed, will add another roundabout and new entrances and exits from campus.
The $4 million project, funded by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, is slated to begin this month, and projected to end, at the latest, by spring 2012.
The project is designed to extend the road near the Welcome Center Garage behind the BEP and ST building. The metal guardrail at the end of University Drive will be removed, extending that road up to meet Johns Hill Road.
There will be a new roundabout where those two roads meet, near Knollwood Drive and Johns Hill. This is one phase of a project designed by the university to ease congestion around campus for students who commute.
It has been a part of the master plan of the university almost since NKU’s opening in 1972. Mary Paula Schuh, director of campus and space planning, is happy it is finally happening.
“I think the benefits will be tremendous,” she said. “We’re excited the construction is finally going to begin. While there will be some inconvenience, the long-term benefit to the university community and the adjacent community, in terms of safe and expedient traffic flow, it is well worth it.”
Some students wonder about traffic and parking, like senior Justin Flanery.
Flanery, who worries about the driving aspect, said, “I do think we need to fix the road issues, but I do have concerns about how the roundabout is used now, and how the new one will be used.”
Dan Seevers, project manager for Eaton Asphalt, the company doing the work, was quick to answer those concerns.
“I don’t envision our construction impacting parking in any way,” he said. “We do not take away any parking that students are using now, that I’m aware of.”
Schuh also understands the concerns.
“Sometimes students who live not too far from campus can spend more time sitting in traffic on Kenton Drive than it takes them to actually get to campus,” she said.
Seevers also stressed that most of the construction will be taking place south of campus. Those who take I-275 are not expected to be affected.
Those students who take Martha Layne Collins Blvd. could see some traffic and tie-ups; but according to Seevers, it should be minimal.
“We anticipate about 70 percent of this project can be constructed without affecting traffic patterns,” he said Schuh said calendars, which list the events through the summer and fall, have been provided so that Eaton will have a better idea of when high-traffic times could be.
Seevers also mentioned that Eaton is looking to do most of the major work this summer, when most students are away.
He indicated that they are aiming to have the bulk of the work done by the end of this construction year, and their goal is to try and finish this year.
Story by Sean Dressman