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University Avenue plans for a facelift

The+artist+rendition+of+University+Avenue+was+shown+to+the+public+last+week+and+construction+will+begin+after+spring+2018+commencement.+
The artist rendition of University Avenue was shown to the public last week and construction will begin after spring 2018 commencement.

Starting after the spring 2018 commencement, UTEP plans to begin a two-part plan to enhance safety measures and the look of University Avenue on the east side of campus. 

Along with the Texas Department of Transportation, engineering firm Quantum Consultants, Metropolitan Planning Organization and the city of El Paso, representatives from UTEP’s Office of Planning and Construction have been developing new ideas for this project and presented them to the community last week on Monday, Nov. 20.

Greg McNicol, associate vice president for facility management, said that his team is trying to work with TxDOT and the city to construct links from the campus back to the public streets to improve the quality of public transportation, pedestrian crossings and bikers.

According to the Office of Planning and Construction, the University Avenue project will feature wider sidewalks, an additional crosswalk, trees, plants, shade canopies, new lighting, benches, bicycle lanes and an ADA ramp. The road will be restriped and resurfaced with these reconstruction efforts.

“Working with the city of El Paso, they too have a project that takes you from Oregon to Stanton. These are pedestrian and bike lanes,” McNicol said. “We’re also familiar with the new improvements that have been made like the trolley and bike lanes. This starts to connect UTEP back to the city network too, so that we’re able to offer alternative transportation ways.”.

Through different projects that the Office of Planning and Construction has done recently, they have seen success with recent developments such as the renovation of Hawthorne Street.

“A good example of a recently completed project is Hawthorne Street, where you can go from the center of the campus to the Sunset Heights, and the walk and the sidewalks they put in,” McNicol said. “We’re now working for the link from Centennial Plaza back to the east along University Avenue.”

Jean-Andre Moore, a senior commercial music major, walks to and from school every day and passes through University Avenue to get home. He said that although this is a proposition in place for pedestrians, the plans should focus on other areas that need improvement.

“I wasn’t aware this was a real issue, but I do think that the roads are safe for pedestrians,” he said. “Sidewalks are up and down on University as far as I know. Bikes, however, aren’t as safe.”

Although this plan seems to be already in place, Moore believes that the university should use funds and efforts to help other areas that need attention.

“Does the school need to do something like this? I don’t think there’s enough bikers and people who walk for this to be a real issue,” he said.

“They could speed up internet, make a better effort to work on student morale, like mental health issues, fix the parking situation… I could go on forever. There are way bigger issues than if people are walking safely and if the school is fussing over this issue opposed to anything else, I’m sure a lot of students would be annoyed with the fact.”

On the other hand, McNicol assured that this project would cater to not only bikers, but also make it more convenient for people who use public transportation.

“We have a large ridership that uses the express routes. We have two bus routes that come that way. There’s about 20,000 students a month that travel on one of the two bus routes that go from the transit center at Cielo Vista Mall and one that’s further at Joe Battle,” McNicol said. “So these students will come right here back into campus on the Oregon drop off. That’s an extremely strong connection right back into campus for students who choose to use that. Maybe there will be even more in the future, that’s the thing we’re recognizing.”

The construction for this project will take place throughout the summer and will be separated into two different phases that will be done simultaneously.

“We’re now wanting to take a piece of this project into two separate phases, but they’re kind of being done at the same time,” McNicols said. “We’ll go from the Liberal Arts to the arroyo. A future phase would be to go from that point all the way to Oregon Street.”

Down the line, McNicols alluded to the fact that this plan is a small piece of a larger incentive the organization hopes to bring to UTEP.

“Actually it’s the continuous master plan that we have in place,” he said. “UTEP is working with the city and with the Metropolitan Planning Organization to see how we can establish these links to create alternative ways–how people can get from one side of the city to another.”

The project is expected to be finished before the start of the fall 2018 semester, per McNicols. For more information about the plans, visit admin.utep.edu/Default.aspx?tabid=74239.

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About the Contributor
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor
Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.   Adrian was born and raised in El Paso, TX, and is a graduate of Franklin high school. He entered college in the fall of 2015 in hopes to better his career in journalism.   Along with sports, Adrian enjoys writing music reviews, perspective columns and news stories on politics.   Although he is pursuing his degree in journalism, Adrian would like to go to law school and be an attorney while doing part-time work in journalism.  
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University Avenue plans for a facelift