Changes will be coming to campus next spring, as part the university’s master plan. The long-term plan, which was developed by facilities management, the Office of the Chancellor and other leaders on campus, highlights major multi-million dollar projects that will improve the campus over the next decade or so. Part of that master plan included the East Campus Infrastructure Project, which began planning in the spring of 2014.
Almost four years later, the East Campus Infrastructure project moved from the planning phase to the design phase. The project has an estimated budget of $7.687 million. However, some of the cost will be split between the City of Charlotte and the N.C. Department of Transportation because some of the roads involved are maintained by the city and state.
The project will introduce a new traffic layout in the east campus area. This new traffic pattern will result in the closing of parking lot 6A and the shutdown of entrances and exits on campus. The construction phase of this project is scheduled to start March 2019 with a projected completion date sometime in May 2020. During the construction phase, it may be an inconvenience for drivers.
Brian Kugler, the senior project manager with UNC Charlotte’s facilities management office, explained how the university plans to handle the construction phase of the project.
“There will be lane closures during construction with directed traffic. The intent is not to have any full road closures and we hope to have the bulk of construction take place during the summer when the traffic loads are lighter,” Kugler said.
The construction will also be broken up into different stages to ensure drivers can access this area of campus at all times while construction takes place.
The most notable change is the east campus entrance will be remodeled. John Kirk Drive will be routed into campus to meet with Cameron Boulevard at a signalized intersection, bringing with it the thousands of cars that travel on that road each day.
The purpose behind the new traffic pattern is to lower congestion in that area, add independent and separated bike lanes for students as well as lay the foundation for a bigger project.
Once the traffic redesign is complete, the next project in that area, according to the long-term plan, is the addition of multiple multi-million dollar buildings in the new area over the course of about a decade.
The major Martin Hall parking lot, known as Lot Six, will be replaced with a parking deck that will be one of the largest parking decks on campus.
A new residence hall, adjacent from Martin Hall, will start planning or design until 2022.
The university has also looked into building a Garden Welcome Center and a Performing Arts Center, which will be placed in that same area. However, these ideas are not yet in the formal planning process and years away.
One thing is for sure, when students arrive from the summer break for the 2019-20 academic year, they will no longer see the East Campus they’ve come to know, rather the framework for the future of UNC Charlotte’s East Campus expansion plan.