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Saturday, December 03, 2022
NEWS  |  CAMPUS

Part of Museum Road may open by October, multiple UF construction projects still underway

Students and faculty navigate new bus routes and modes of transport

<p>Construction on UF campus along Museum Road shutters bus routes and commutes across the university.</p>

Construction on UF campus along Museum Road shutters bus routes and commutes across the university.

Being stuck in the emergency room was not how 20-year-old UF psychology junior Avery Dodge imagined spending an average Wednesday night last year. 

On Dec. 22, 2021, Dodge was picking a friend up from the Midtown area on her electric scooter. Both Museum and Stadium Roads’ entrances were closed, as well as entrances on 13th Street, so Dodge took her scooter onto the busy West University Avenue.

She said she was brake-checked by a car and fell on her scooter. The resulting gash was so severe she had to go to the emergency room to be examined, she said.

If Dodge could drive through campus, which she considers a safer route with fewer cars, she said she may have avoided the injury.

Road closures are still a major concern for the UF community, as construction is still in process under UF’s Campus Landscape Master Plan and other projects slated to continue for at least another year. Reasons for road closures range from underground piping replacements to new campus structures, which have resulted in altered routes and transportation methods for many.

However, an end may be in sight for some campus road construction in less than a month. 

One of the largest stretches of road under construction is Museum Road, with sections east and west of Gale Lemerand Drive currently closed. The stretch of road from Newell Drive to the Center Drive intersection on Museum Road is projected to reopen Oct. 2, UF Business Affairs Associate Vice President Brandi Renton wrote in an email.

The new opening will hopefully alleviate transportation challenges for the UF community, she said. The current closure on Museum Road and Newell Drive is due to construction related to replacing chilled water, steam line and electrical duct banks, Renton added. 

The lines are leaking, unsafe and more than 50 years old, Renton said. They are being replaced for safety reasons. 

One of the busiest campus intersections — Gale Lemerand Drive and Museum Road — reopened the week of Aug. 15, Renton said, after it was closed to fix unforeseen underground pipe conditions.

Pipe conditions have also delayed the construction of Malachowsky Hall, the new data science building located across Museum Road from the Reitz Union. Malachowksy’s original projected completion date of March 2023 was extended for 30 days to April 2023, Renton said. 

The budget for the new data science building is more than $150 million. It will house faculty and researchers from the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Engineering, according to UF’s website for planning, construction and design.

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The Museum Road section west of Gale Lemerand Drive has a longer span of time until completion: May 2. Until then, Renton recommends students plan ahead to avoid construction-related issues in areas like Museum Road. 

“Our best advice to all students dealing with the current road closure situation is to remain patient and plan for additional time in your commutes or trips across campus,” she wrote.

One of the largest construction-related hurdles for students and faculty to overcome is adjusted bus routes and times. RTS detoured 12 of its 42 routes around areas affected by construction. With major closures on Museum Road, traffic has increased on the two remaining east-west campus roads, Stadium and Mowry, Renton wrote. 

The UF Transportation and Parking Systems will continue to work to improve its transportation network, Renton said, but it’s also on students to be creative with their choice of transit.

“We encourage students to explore alternate methods of getting around campus,” Renton wrote, mentioning options such as bicycling, walking, riding e-scooters or using public transit.

Despite the promised improvement of infrastructure, Sophia Salvador said her commute to campus is still a headache. The 20-year-old UF environmental engineering junior lives in the apartment complex West 20, and after two semesters of taking RTS bus routes 20 and 21, she still encounters issues of detours and roadblocks. 

Before construction, the bus would stop at Hume Hall, but now it goes to a farther stop, which creates a longer walk to class, she said.

“It’s not that bad of a walk, but it can be stressful if I am running late, which happens sometimes if the buses get full, and I have to wait for the next one,” she said.

Biology professor Bernard Hauser said he feels comfortable getting through the construction by riding his bike. While it’s hard on all of the UF community to deal with construction, he thinks the end result will be worth the headache.

“When you have a chance to build a new building, you're always going to take that chance,” Hauser said.

Other major construction projects expected to finish within next year include the construction site for Honors Village, Southwest Recreation North West building area and Florida Department of Transportation work on West University Avenue, according to UF’s Campus Closures website

Contact Peyton at pharris@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @Peytonlharris.

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Peyton Harris

Peyton Harris is a first-year English major and the News Assistant for The Alligator. She is also a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and spends her free time re-listening to Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers and binging Criminal Minds.


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