By Lurene Heyl, Contributing Writer
Photos by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
For the start of the fall 2019 semester, students are welcomed back with ongoing campus construction.
Towson has been working over the past year with its campus construction plan including new buildings being built and renovated, including the Science Complex and the University Union. All current construction and renovations are expected to be completed by 2021.
“Disruptions to students within the University Union are mostly impacted at the Susquehanna Dining area,” said Scott Guckert, director of construction services at Towson University. “The Patuxent Room will not be serving food and has become, in part, an overflow for the Susquehanna Room dining. The new Science Complex should have little to no additional impact on student travel through the fall and spring semesters.”
While there may have been some temporary unavoidable barriers, Construction Services works to find ways to come up with efficient solutions. The campus has taken adjustments to accommodate the student community.
“The University Union project is an example of where we have displayed the construction phasing plans on the corridor walls to keep the campus informed on next steps in the renovations,” Guckert said. “Our biggest challenge is providing accessible routes for disabled members of our campus community. The topography does not lend easy transitions for wheelchair users. As a result, some accessible routes can be longer than normal.”
According to Guckert, TU Parking and Transportation Services does provide paratransit services that can get wheelchair users closer to buildings under construction.
“We continue to work with contractors to minimize the durations of detours that may affect the disabled community,” Guckert said. “We make every effort to provide and maintain informational and directional signage around construction sites.”
Despite the obstacles that may occur, Guckert says that when it comes to prepping and alerting incoming students for the construction on campus, they can use multiple sources to provide the current conditions regarding the construction activities. These include detour signs, TU Today emails, social media posts, building directional and informational signage and the Towson University website or construction page.
“It is important to familiarize yourself with campus detour routes prior to the beginning of the semester,” Guckert said. “Understanding commute times with established detours will minimize conflicts with class and dining schedules.”
Mass Communications Adjunct Professor Suzanne Loudermilk has adjusted to her new route around the ongoing campus construction.
“The construction of the new Science Complex has made the walk from Glen Garage to the Media Center longer, but I’ve gotten used to it,” she said. “I factor in extra time to get to class, just in case I can’t find a parking spot right away.”
While some students have had to leave earlier for classes to arrive on time, Loudermilk says that has not been a problem for her students.
“Construction doesn’t seem to have affected class attendance in the long run,” she said. “After the first few weeks of the semester, most people figure out how to time the parking and getting to the classroom.”
Just as many others, Loudermilk is excited for the construction to be complete.
“Actually, it’s been fascinating watching the building process, but it will be nice to have Glen Drive open to two-way traffic again,” she said. “I’m also looking forward to not always being on the lookout for construction equipment.”
Shawna Elliott, a junior at Towson University, shared her frustration with the campus construction going on for her entire college career and affecting her routes around campus.
“It has affected how I manage my time in the mornings, especially if I know I have an extra detour to take to get to classes,” she said. “My freshman year, I lived in the Towers and that bridge was under construction. Sophomore year, I lived in Millennium and the West Village Bridge was closed due to the construction that was being done on Burdick.”
While the ongoing campus construction has affected Elliott’s college experience, she does however look forward to visiting the campus in the future to see the new changes that are to come.
“I’m glad that Towson is trying to build and expand the campus, but I am upset that I won’t be around to see it,” she said. “These projects won’t be completely finished until after I graduate, so while I like the idea of having all of these new, fun concepts, I won’t be here to enjoy them.”
Guckert says in the meantime, students can look forward to the campus continuing to grow with the newly released design of the College of Health Professions, with renovations and construction happening through 2020.
“The Glen Towers will be undergoing a multi-phased renovation including new exterior cladding and HVAC units throughout, which is scheduled to begin being worked on in summer 2020,” Guckert said. “The newly renovated Glen Dining Hall will be open spring of 2020, the new Science Complex will be completed fall 2020 and the University Union Renovations and Expansion will continue through 2020.”
More updates on the larger campus construction projects can be found on Towson University’s Campus Construction page.