Foundations of construction projects greet UST students and faculty returning to campus for fall semester.
As soon as the initial surprise of the changing appearance of campus wears off, students and faculty may wonder how long campus will be under construction and how much progress has been made over these past few summer months.
“The project has gone well, no big surprises or anything. We’re on track. We’re on schedule,” said Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations.
John Hershey, St. Paul neighborhood liaison agreed. “There have been no major construction snags and both Sitzmann and the Anderson Athletic and Recreation complex are on schedule.”
In May and June, Foley Theater, Schoenecker Arena and Coughlan Fieldhouse were demolished to pave the way for the addition of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation complex. This complex will house a new fitness center, arena, aquatic facility and field house.
Off-site construction is limited to only certain parts of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation conplex. “I think you see that with … the pre-cast walls; those walls are put together off-site and brought in but a lot of the construction happens right on site,” said Hennes.
With the many construction projects in and around campus, students and faculty have already made adjustments.
“The sports teams have had to make some big adjustments,” Hennes said. “The football team is using O’Shaughnessy Hall … that will be their location for the next year. Some of the sports are going to have to move off-campus: volleyball will be playing its games this fall at Concordia University; the two basketball teams will be playing their home games there as well.”
Track and cross-country will hold team meetings and practices mainly in O’Shaughnessy and McCarthy.
Students may also be concerned with construction noise levels affecting their morning routines. But, according to the St. Thomas Web site, the surrounding neighborhood should not be affected by the construction. “With construction occurring near the middle of campus, noise is expected to have minimal impact on the neighborhood. That distance and the sound of motor vehicle traffic on nearby streets will muffle most, if not all, construction-related noise.”
Students living on campus, however, have quite a different experience with construction noise.
“It affects me because I enjoy sleeping in when I need to and the construction all but eliminates that,” said junior Brett Stone, Brady resident adviser. “The beeping sound when they’re in reverse is by far the worst sound you could ever hear at 7 a.m. It is like the alarm that you break and re-break. We all joke in Brady that they should have built the other wall in front of Brady first so the sound would bounce off. Overall it’s pretty tolerable unless you forget to shut the window.”
Although the construction may be an annoying wake-up call for some students, sophomore Brian Dahl, another Brady RA, said that it’s easy to block out the daytime construction.
“Life with the construction isn’t as bad as one thinks,” he said. “During the day it is really easy to drown out the noise. It is also somewhat enjoyable to watch the athletic center being constructed. In contrast, the worst part of the construction is the 7 a.m. wake up call every weekday. It’s actually quite remarkable how efficient the workers are, because they start working away exactly at 7. I see this noise as a potential problem during the school year, because I start classes later in the day, around 11. I guess it really depends on who you are and what kind of sleeper you are.”
Student traffic flow will also be thicker as campus walkway space is limited due to construction.
“There are signs posted on the hill from the quad to the residence halls (west of MHC) for bikers to dismount and walk,” Hershey said.
While these construction projects are causing students and faculty members to make adjustments to their everyday schedules, the final result, Hennes assures, will be worth the temporary inconveniences. “If people keep in mind what we’re going to accomplish in the long run here … it’s worth those kinds of sacrifices.”
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.