MIRANDA MARITATO | Staff Reporter
Butler University is undergoing the first phase of the Streetscape project to improve campus. The city of Indianapolis has partnered with the university, contributing $1.5 million to the $3-million project.
Highlights of phase one include boulevard- style medians lined with trees, new street lamps and campus signage, and the installation of bike lanes and sidewalks. Phase one will last approximately one year. Additional phases will be addressed in subsequent years.
Phase one of the project will address Sunset Avenue between Hampton Drive and 49th Street. Another area of focus in this project include the curve connecting Sunset Avenue and 49th Street in front of the Health and Recreation Complex.
Rich Michal, executive director of operations, oversees the project on Butler’s end. Along with street renovations, Michal said the university is looking at housing renovations to improve the campus.
The Streetscape project began during March.
Some construction on campus is due to pipelines being relocated by Citizens Gas, Michal said. Another large area under construction is the curve in front of the HRC.
“Right now, that curve is too sharp of a turn,” Michal said. “We’re going to make that more gradual.”
The street in front of the HRC is going to be replaced with permeable pavers, because water in the Hinkle Fieldhouse parking lot tends to flow into the street, and forms massive puddles, Michal said. Permeable pavers would allow the road to drain more effectively.
Freshman Nick Waltz saw the construction on 49th Street last week while he was working as a control desk supervisor at the HRC.
“The road in front of the HRC is messy right now. The sidewalks are pretty torn up as well,” Waltz said.
Waltz said he saw construction on the curve affect traffic flow, including traffic at a standstill from both directions.
“I’m not bothered by the construction, because I understand things have to be modified and improved,” Waltz said. “It would be nice to be notified by email from the university to let the students know what is going on. I’ve been walking by there for a few weeks now, and I’m still unaware of the construction that they’re doing.”
Michal said there will be a new street added in front of Hinkle that will serve as a bus pull out.
“We’ll use that internally for now, but we hope to re-attract public transportation to campus,” Michal said. “We haven’t had bus line to campus since the mid-90s.”
This reconstruction is expected to close down the street for two months, but will be reopened before classes begin in fall 2014.
“The next phase that is happening currently but will take longer is the southbound lane of Sunset,” Michal said.
That construction will cut in new utility lines, green infrastructure, a bike lane and medians, Michal said.
“This time next year, everything will be done except the final painting,” Michal said.
Michal said the southbound lane of Sunset will be closed this summer through Christmas. He expects all construction to be done by graduation in 2015.
Reconstructing the curve at Sunset and 49th Street will improve safety conditions.
“During the winter, motorists slip on ice and hit the curb,” said Assistant Police Chief Bill Weber.
Weber said the Streetscape project will provide safety and aesthetic benefits.
“We’re fortunate it is a partnership with the city,” Weber said. “The city is contributing $1.5 million and we’re contributing the balance. It’s a great opportunity for the city to leverage their Rebuild Indy money and for us to leverage our money.”
Michal said, if all goes according to plan, the first phase will not be the last.
“We hope this is just the first phase of many,” Michal said. “This is a great opportunity to rebrand the perimeter of campus. It’s going to beautify make it safer, and more pedestrian friendly.”