Upgrades for University Avenue, UND campus underway
Although the students may be gone, the UND campus is still buzzing and beeping with construction.
Much of the UND campus will be under construction this summer as city crews redo University Avenue and as work begins on Memorial Union and the Chester-Fritz Library in the coming weeks and months.
University Avenue, which cuts through the core of campus, is almost entirely torn up. The project began about two weeks ago and is expected to be finished, weather permitting, by Aug. 21. That's just days before students return, said Brian Larson, associate director of construction management at UND.
The project, which is being carried out by the city, will include an entire redo of the road, as well as streetscaping, work to the medians and new lighting. The overall goal of the construction is safety as pedestrian crossings will be much more defined than they are at present.
“It’ll be a much safer road for pedestrians,” Larson said.
A mill and overlay project on University already was scheduled for the 2020 construction season. That project would stretch from downtown Grand Forks at Third Street all the way through campus.
The project is expected to cost around $12 million. Larson said the city will be special assessing the university for a portion of the project costs.
In November, students voted to build a new Memorial Union through an increase in student fees. The new building is expected to cost approximately $80 million and should be completed by 2021.
Asbestos removal will begin shortly and is expected to last four to six weeks, Larson said. The demolition of Memorial Union is currently set for July, Larson said.
“It’ll start kind of slow. People won’t really see it coming down yet,” he said. “We’ll be making it safe to come down first and then demolition will start in July and into August.”
Site fencing will begin going up in June.
Larson said the university is working on relocating staff and the services that traditionally are in the building. Dining Services will be located in various buildings around campus, while coffee service will move to Columbia Hall. The convenience store that was located in the building will now be located in O’Kelly Hall. Squires Dining Hall, located in Walsh complex, will remain open during the summer as a food option for those on campus.
Furniture that is in the building will be moved to other parts of campus, including the Chester-Fritz Library.
“There’s been a huge effort to make sure the contents of Union are saved for upgrading other facilities here at UND,” he said, noting that everything from chairs to drinking fountains will be used in other parts of campus.
The Chester-Fritz Library also is receiving a renovation this summer.
Work began on the first phase of construction back in December and will continue through early 2020. The new north entrance should be finished by August, Larson said.
Larson said the renovation should make the library easier to navigate, as each floor will be visible when a person walks in the north entrance.
“You walk into the northside of the building and it’s kind of a maze,” he said, noting the update hopes to alleviate the issue. “This is going to be such an amazing upgrade for the library.”
Additionally, work is being done to the HVAC system and a new sprinkler system is also being installed. The renovation also will bring together UND’s entire I.T. department on the first floor.
The library will remain open during the renovation phase. Visitors are asked to use the south entrance. Signs will direct visitors around the open sections of the library, and elevator access to the upper levels will still be available.
In addition to opening more space in the library, Larson said the renovation also helps address deferred maintenance issues by dealing with safety concerns, such as the sprinkler system.
It is a $11.65 million project funded by a combination of fundraising, dollars from an extraordinary repairs fund, and private investment from the Johnson Controls steam plant project for energy efficiency upgrades, Larson said.
Roads and parking lots
Chandler Hall was demolished last summer. Now, work will begin to turn the area into a new parking lot along the English Coulee. The project will emphasize pedestrian lighting and landscaping, Larson said.
The parking lot south of Gustafsen Hall will also be reconstructed with new sidewalk connects and additional lighting.
Yale Drive, in front of the Chester-Fritz Auditorium, will be reconstructed this summer, Larson said. The road will be pulled back from the English Coulee to improve the aesthetics of the campus. It also will provide an easier connection to parking south of the auditorium.
Oxford Road will be realigned this year. The work also will include the addition of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings.
Additional work will also be completed on Campus Road to complete connections and make it safer for pedestrians, Larson said.
Construction has started on the university’s new steam plant, as well. Once work is completed on the new plant, the old plant will be demolished and turned into a parking lot. The new plant is expected to be completed by spring 2020.