May 4, 2006

Transportation Study Looks for Solutions

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Cornell knows where you live, at least if you have a campus parking permit. This and other data are being gathered as part of a transportation-focused Generic Environmental Impact Statement (t-GEIS). Ithaca residents were able to pick out their houses from satellite maps and look at charts at a University Neighborhoods Council-sponsored open house yesterday from 4 to 8 p.m. at East Hill Plaza Best Western Hotel.

The goal of the workshop was to get information and opinions from locals and to answer their questions about the $1.5 million transportation study. This was one of a series of public community meetings on the transportation study sponsored by Cornell and the Town of Ithaca.

“The goal is to find efficient ways of getting people to campus; it’s all about access,” said David Lieb grad, assistant director of Transportation Services.

He explained that the transportation study is looking at hypothetical growth at Cornell over the next decade with the aim of developing strategies to deal with it.

“The point of this is not to widen the roads; it’s to get creative in terms of how to get people into alternative forms of transportation,” said Kathryn Wolf, project manager for Trowbridge & Wolf Landscape Architects and Planners, one of the contractors working on the transportation study.

Current construction on Lynah Rink has limited the use of the parking lot between the rink and Teagle Hall to construction vehicles only, but after construction on the rink is completed, the lot will still be restricted, with a few service and handicap parking spaces and much of the space occupied by a loading dock for the Life Sciences and Technology Building. The Lynah Rink construction will provide about 400 more seats, equal locker rooms for men’s and women’s teams, more space for training and other usage; the hope is to have enough done by December to be able to resume regular hockey competition, according to Phil Cox, interim associate vice president for facilities services.

However, about 190 more parking spaces will be available once the new level is added to the Hoy Field Parking Garage, which is expected to be ready for use in September. Parking will likely remain the same near Bailey Hall since work on Bailey Plaza has been delayed for a year. The area now occupied by trailers and construction vehicles will also be available for parking this fall since construction on Bailey Hall will be finished by the end of the summer. The course Psych 101: Introduction to Psychology will return to Bailey Hall this fall.

“The class already has a pre-enrollment of 790 upper-class students,” said Prof. James Maas, psychology, the Weiss Presidential Fellow.

“Now that Bailey is reopening, we have the opportunity to host mid-sized performances,” said Jon Bellante ’06, chair of the Cornell University Programming Board.

Construction vehicles associated with Mann Library renovation should also be off of the Agriculture Quad by the end of the summer, according to D. Randall Lacey, university engineer.

This summer, the segment of Campus Road between Judd Falls Road and Tower Road will be closed in order to widen the road for bicycle lanes. The University is also planning to build a tunnel going under Tower Road connecting the Plant Sciences Building and the New Life Sciences and Technology Building. Though according to Lacey, there is a chance that the construction could take place without closing the road. Down by the Engineering Quad, construction on the Trolley Bridge, which links the quad to Collegetown should be finished by the fall; the construction on the Thurston Avenue Bridge, a project run by the City of Ithaca, is expected to be done in October 2008. According to Lieb, Cornell has worked closely with the City to keep one lane open during most of the construction and to add a right turn lane from University Avenue to East Avenue to make the sharp right turn easier for cars and buses.

The 80,000-square-foot Life Sciences and Technology Building is expected to be completed in January 2008, and Lacey said that students should expect to see more of the concrete base of the structure this fall.

Much of base of the East Campus Research Facility is already visible. This is a new building by the Veterinary School which will have four stories when completed in September 2007 at a cost of $55 million according to John Keefe, project manager for the East Campus Research Facility construction.

Construction is underway for the Hans Bethe House on West Campus and on the Noyes Recreation Center, which will replace the West Campus parking lot. Both structures, in addition to two more dorms, which are set to be breaking ground next January, are part of the West Campus Residential Initiative.

There are a few projects still in the conceptual and design phase. These include building an underground addition to the Johnson Art Museum, replacing the North building of Martha Van Rensselaer and constructing a new Physical Sciences Building between Baker, Clark and Rockefeller Halls.

According to Cox, there are a few sites being considered for breaking ground for the new 100,000-square-foot building Gates Hall estimated to cost $50 million. Some of the sites being considered are around Collegetown, by the Crescent parking lot by Schoellkopf Field and by Ward Lab and the Engineering Quad.

Plans for Milstein Hall for the College for the College of Art, Architecture and Planning, need approval as do renovation plans for Ives Hall, the extension of the Wilson Lab particle accelerator, adding combustion turbines to the Heating Plant and getting a waste digester for the Vet school.

There are also plans for next spring to replace the current turf on Hoy Field with artificial grass and to add park-like features such as benches, sitting areas and nice landscaping, according to Cox. He said that two more sports fields are also planned to be next to the current soccer fields by Game Farm Road.

The transportation study and most of the construction should be finished in the next 5 to 10 years; however, the University is putting together a comprehensive master plan to determine a long-term vision for campus 10 to 25 years from now.

Mina Amundsen, university planner, compared the concept to “planning for your life,” saying that this plan will assess the University’s long-term plans.

Archived article by Vanessa Hoffman
Sun City Editor