Many students and plenty of teachers here at UAA are in absolute bewilderment wondering why major construction is being done the first few weeks of school.
The construction on Providence Drive will close off Spirit Drive for over two months. The Municipality of Anchorage is in charge of the project, not UAA, so they planned the construction when they felt it best fit their schedule, which just so happened to start on the first few weeks of school.
New developments for UAA are always appreciated, but students think that right now isn’t the best time for major construction to occur due to the frenzied chaos of the new school year.
“It’s the most inconvenient time to do this. They had all summer to be taking care of construction.” Joe Barkley, a student driver, said.
Even though a very small portion of Providence Drive is reduced to one lane on each side of the road, this causes an immense traffic problem during busy times of the day, with cars backing up all along Providence Drive and UAA Drive, made worse by crossing pedestrians.
“It would be nice to figure out a better way to get traffic moving in and out of UAA.” Dr. Frank Moore, asso said.
It would be wise to manage to find the clear times of the day, mostly in between classes, when the traffic calms down a bit.
Cindy Nowicki is a student who is stuck on a time limit and hits traffic on Providence Drive most days of the week.
“I have class on one end of the campus at the Admin Building and I have to drive all the way over to the Eugene Short Hall in fifteen minutes,” Nowicki said. It’s bad enough to find a parking spot as it is, but when traffic slows you down, it really makes it harder.”
The complete closure of Spirit Drive cuts off a major stop at the Bookstore for the Seawolf Shuttle, but the workers of the Bookstore haven’t noticed too much of a difference in their business.
“The first couple of days were pretty bad because they had so much of the parking lot blocked off,” Penny Kimball, cashiering supervisor for the Bookstore, said. “After that, I haven’t had too many problems except taking a few extra minutes to get out of the school.”
The People Mover buses are also affected because stops have had to be moved further apart to accommodate the construction and workers. Also, many of the sidewalks have been torn up during the construction, though some people are pretty optimistic regardless of these moves. “I just walk around it and it makes great exercise!” Matt Caprioli, a bus commuting student, said.
Although numerous students and teachers have to face this dilemma every day, many people do not have the same troubles. Kim Heidemann, math secretary, is one of the fortunate people. “I got lucky; they moved my classes all to one side of campus so I don’t even have to go over there anymore. In fact, this is the first semester that I haven’t had to go on that side of campus.”
While the timeline of the project presently causes mixed feelings throughout the staff and student population, the end result will provide improvements beneficial to the school that everyone can appreciate.
One enhancement is a lit and tiled path that will run parallel to Spirit Drive, making a much needed walkway from the bus stop to the Bookstore without having to be too close to the roads. Many other sidewalks up and down Providence Drive will be installed for safety as well as convenience.
Plans also call for a new stoplight, making it safer for people turning onto Spirit Drive, and the road itself will be widened to allow more lanes. With the new lights there will be crosswalks put in for pedestrians to easily cross the street, which diminished the incentive to jaywalk. “The new traffic lights will help a lot,” Dr. Moore said.
There will also be a brand new bus stop, similar to that in front of the Consortium Library, which will include a covered shelter, benches, lamps and bike racks. This is good news for bus riders and bikers alike. “Bikers don’t get as much attention as they should, and any upgrade for them would be great,” Adam DePesa, an avid biker, said. Various other bus stops up and down Providence Drive will also be improved, but not as extensively.
The plans are broad, but they expect to have the road back open by the end of September.