Administration let students know change was coming but few could have expected how quickly the area in front of McGregor Hall would begin its transformation.
The repairs to underground steam lines have closed down McGregor Alley, the one way street which runs between McGregor Hall and Combs Building. Students who have typically used the road to drop off groceries and pick up friends no longer enjoy the convenience of the road. Convenience aside, many students were rightly concerned about the safety issues posed by cutting off transportation in the area.
Richmond Fire Chief Buzzy Campbell was asked about access of safety vehicles to McGregor and surrounding buildings. Campbell said he met with a group of Eastern administrators shortly after President Benson’s fall convocation to discuss several upcoming projects, including the pipe repairs in front of McGregor Hall.
Administrators openly asked about possible safety hazards in order to address any issues early. The Richmond Fire Department implemented a new response policy. The fire department has a specific response policy for each building on campus and when every policy changes are made the department conducts trainings sessions, Campbell said. The new policy for McGregor Hall had responders entering the portion of the roadway in front of the Weaver Building, where Campbell said they had sufficient access to the building under Federal fire codes.
Fire codes are only one facet of the considerations that need to be met when a large-scale project is taken on campus. Because a campus houses such a large population of people, there are special guidelines that have to be followed according to the Kentucky Building Code. The Kentucky Division of Engineering and Contract Administration oversee large projects to ensure not only building codes are being followed but regulations by other organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the US Green Building Council are being followed, Herzog said.
With so many eyes on a single project it is clear that not only Eastern administrators but state guidelines are strict when it comes to safety and code regarding construction of university campuses.
Although safety may not be an immediate concern, inconveniences caused by upcoming larger projects may be unavoidable. Combs Hall is slated to be demolished at the end of the spring 2014 semester and construction on the new entryway for Eastern will begin. No clear end date has been established for the project although administrators say some of the construction will be done during the summer when campus traffic is minimal. It is certain that projects such as the Pedestrian Mall, which will extend into the area currently under repair in front of McGregor, will have some of the construction underway during peak seasons.
For projects such as the pipe line repair outside of McGregor administrators send emails, newsletters and post signs for those directly effected. Regarding the current construction at McGregor, the residnet hall director was also informed so she could answer any questions students may have. Middleton said signs are not always the most productive because they can be overlooked in the sea of signs posted throughout campus. But what about informing others that may be effected?
In the event of the closing of a major thoroughfare on campus a campus wide email would be sent to faculty, staff and students, said Eastern spokesman Marc Whitt. Eastern administrators will often send out press released to local media outlets and contact Richmond City Hall if there is any major construction in the works.
Construction at Barnes Mill Road and the Student Mall are in the heart of day to day commute for students, faculty and staff and are surrounded by building that will still be in use. It’s certain that Eastern can use a face-lift. Let’s hope that administrators continue to keep the public safe and informed as they tackle larger projects.