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including The Conductor, a special section of the Spectrum printed 4 times a year

Spring Road may be closed

By Sookhan Ho

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 03 - September 7, 1995

The university may close down Spring Road south of Stadium Road to through traffic after the last home football game on Saturday Nov. 4.

Closing the section of the road would permit construction of various athletic facilities. Spring Road connects Washington Street with Southgate Drive in a winding course past Cassell Coliseum, Lane Stadium, Rector Field House, and two parking lots.

Briefing the Board of Visitors' Buildings and Grounds Committee last week, University Architect Peter Karp said the possible closing of the southern section of Spring Road could create a parcel of land for three projects:

* Construction and improved development of the Track/Soccer Complex in November. This $1.8-million complex, comprising a turfgrass soccer field enclosed within a competition track surface, is scheduled to be completed next summer.

* Relocation of a football practice field that will be displaced by the construction of the $20.5-million Student Health and Fitness Center.

* Future construction of a women's softball field, funding for which has yet to be identified. The university is required to build the field to comply with Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments, aimed at achieving gender equity in collegiate sports.

"The logic and synergy of having all these athletic projects together in one area uninterrupted by roads and near existing athletic facilities is highly desirable," Karp said.

As for Spring Road, its future remains uncertain. Whether its southern section would later be put back in, east of these new athletic projects, depends on the impact of the closing on traffic flow, Karp said. The university's new Master Plan, presented to the committee a year ago, had recommended moving this section of the road eastward, to line up with Tech Center Drive. The goal was to improve traffic patterns by removing the need for vehicles on Spring Road to turn left onto Southgate Drive to reach Tech Center Drive.

However, replacing and relocating this section of the road is estimated to cost about $700,000, Karp said. His office is currently working with the Virginia Department of Transportation to conduct traffic counts on Spring Road before and after the road is closed. Both agencies will evaluate the results to determine if the road should be replaced and relocated, Karp said. If not, the university will improve two intersections of Duck Pond Drive in anticipation of heavier traffic flow there. "There's a strong sentiment for not putting Spring Road back in if we can handle the distribution of traffic well."

In other news, Karp reported that the university has received final pricing for the new Northern Virginia Center that it will share with the University of Virginia. The cost of the project, which is being pursued on a turnkey basis, is now $16.8 million. (The developer selected, JBG Associates of Washington D.C., proposed not only a building team that included an architectural firm and a general contractor, but also a site adjacent to the West Falls Church Metro station.)

"We've come in $500,000 under budget," Karp said, adding that the surplus will remain in a contingency fund for possible use later to furnish the center. The project, a partnership between Tech and the University of Virginia (with Tech owning and occupying 60 percent of the building), is still scheduled for completion in December, '96. (See "Northern Virginia" on pg. 1)

Reviewing the impact of state budgetary cutbacks on campus buildings and grounds, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Ray Smoot said "it is becoming an increasing challenge to keep the campus looking nice and the buildings clean," given the loss of some 37 Physical Plant positions over the past five years and the continued freeze on another 15 positions. Moreover, Smoot said, 27 employees in the department are currently appealing the university's disapproval of their retirement applications under the state's Workforce Transition Act.

The department's remaining 325 staff members are responsible for more than seven million square feet of buildings and 2,000 acres of grounds, about 800 acres of which are intensively maintained. "We hope that we won't see further losses of resources," Smoot said, "especially with new facilities coming on line."