Deadline for construction still in question, UTEP pushes to finish by end of spring


Andres Martinez

Construction on Centennial Plaza continues past Fall 2014 deadline.

Maria Esquinca, Copy Editor

Students, workers and UTEP officials alike are united by a common desire—the end of construction on campus.

“We too want the project to be over,” said Greg McNicol, associate vice president for business affairs. “We’re working as fast as we can. At the end of the day when we finish this, it’s going to be such a beautiful project.”

McNicol said there are two major openings scheduled to be completed by the first day of classes—Kerby Road, in front of the Psychology Building, and the path between the Liberal Arts Building and the Union Building.

Despite the progress, some students feel frustrated by the delays and roundabouts caused by construction.

“It’s taking forever,” said Astrid Portillo, junior psychology major, who took a Wintermester class.

During the Wintermester session, University Avenue was closed off and students had to go through the Liberal Arts Building to access the rest of campus.

Portillo said the closure caused her to be late to class a few times.

Back in 2012, Andrea Gonzalez, sophomore anthropology major, had to take a similar detour.

“I had one class in the UGLC and the next class in psychology, so I had 10 minutes to run around the Union and I was always late,” Gonzalez said.

Campus transformation began in 2012, and was supposed to be finalized by 2014 in time for the centennial celebration.

“Back then, I thought it was a good thing they’re improving the campus, but now it’s kind of annoying,” Gonzalez said.

McNicol said the construction deadlines were missed due to old underground piping that is being replaced around Old Main, Bell and Quinn Halls.

“It would not be prudent to do great things on top without first taking care underground,” McNicol said. “We’ve just about finished about every piece of pipe or utility that’s been in that area.”

McNicol said some construction projects had to be paused because of the noise that was created during class time.

Other setbacks included problems with what agent worked best for mixing decomposed granite, a special type of asphalt that lets water seep through.

“It’s not your typical project.” McNicol said. “At the end of the day and nothing like they’ve ever done before.”

To make up for lost time, construction resumed during the winter break. An average of 120 laborers worked on a daily basis.

Blas Herrera, a 39 year-old construction worker, said he averaged 27 hours in overtime per week.

“We’re all giving it our best so that UTEP students can feel proud of their campus,” Herrera said.

During the entirety of the break, workers had three days off and worked on Christmas Eve.

A typical workday for Herrera meant coming in at 6:30 a.m. and clocking out at 5 p.m.

“That’s how busy we’ve been, trying to get it in place,” McNicol said.

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Maria Esquinca may be reached at [email protected]