New campus infrastructure in the works

As UMHB and the town it calls home continue to grow, construction projects are under way to facilitate the spike in traffic and population. One place where change is visible is across the train tracks from Crusader Way where the new location of the Center for Physical Plant Operations will be.

Senior Vice President for Campus Planning Edd Martin is happy about this move.

“As far as the university is concerned, it will allow us to relocate the physical plant from their current location providing them much needed new space,” he said. “It will allow us to aggregate storage from across campus and pull all of Physical Plant personnel into one location.”

According to the campus master plan released Feb. 15, 2011, there will be space for more campus improvement.

This will allow for new parking lots around the perimeter of the campus and use of current parking areas in the center of campus for more buildings and walkways.

The center’s new location will offer nearly 56,000 square feet of room for offices, workspaces and storage.

Construction begins on a road that will provide easier access to property purchased by the university for a physical plant. Photo by Katelyn Holm/The Bells.

Martin expects the offices to be moved at the end of the semester.

“The roadway should be finished in February. We don’t expect to move the physical plant personnel and operations into their new location until May 2013,” he said.

The plant’s relocation is possible through the university’s purchase of an industrial complex. The construction that is visible from Crusader Way will allow for easy access to the new office block.

Associate Vice President for Campus Planning Bob Pattee is excited to see the progress on the much needed complex.

“This project will provide a new private access road to the old Superior Chair Craft manufacturing facility, which will become the new location for the physical plant,’ he said. “The alternate route would be via Main Street, or Loop 121 to the Belton Industrial Park.”

Pattee also said it will have a positive effect on Belton at large.

“This new route will provide quick and easy access and keep university traffic off Main Street & loop 121,” he said.

Development of the roadway has been underway for almost a month, but has experienced some setbacks.

Pattee said, “Construction on the road began approximately three weeks ago and has been delayed by weather.”

He is hopeful that the project will be complete by early spring.

“Once the road is completed, fences and utilities will need to be installed.  Total project should complete by the end of March,” Pattee said.

As the physical plant reaps the benefits of the current construction, a project that would benefit Belton at large continues to brew as it has for decades. This involves a possible bridge across Nolan Creek.

Martin said this would alleviate congestion.

“It will benefit the city of Belton by potentially removing some traffic on Main Street and relocating it to Loop 121 on the  west side of the campus. UMHB could benefit with better access to Loop 121 as well.”

Martin also believes the bridge, if it were built, would help traffic flow around the new stadium on game days.

Public Information Officer for the City of Belton Paul Romer is well acquainted with the idea.

“We have records at City Hall that show the Ninth Avenue Bridge project was on the radar of city leaders and staff as far back as 1980, or before most UMHB students were born,” he said. “Most of the projects on that early thoroughfare plan have been completed, but Ninth Avenue presents some unique engineering challenges which impact cost.”

Romer said if the project is successful, both students and Belton residents will experience benefits.

“As Belton continues to grow, traffic on Main Street is expected to increase. The Ninth Avenue bridge won’t completely rectify that, but it will give people another way to get on and off campus. That alone will reduce the traffic flow on Main Street.”

Author: Antonio Hebert

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