By Jess Napp
On a typical afternoon, the walk to Van Den Berg Hall is a simple stroll down the stairs adjacent to Old Main and the Jacobson Faculty Tower.
However, on a recent Tuesday, political science major Megan Carbia was on her way to class at the distant building when she was met by chaos. The walkway was closed, and so was the adjoining parking lot. Backup sirens from a bulldozer blared and cars honked aggressively as drivers jockeyed for prime parking spaces.
Carbia was left tiptoeing around the blue fence where the sidewalk used to be.
“You are literally walking in the middle of the street,” she said.
Work being done on Mohonk Walk West will eventually make this walk easier, but the temporary closure of the walkway and the Jacobson Faculty Tower Parking Lot has made navigating this part of campus more difficult, and some say dangerous.
On April 3, Facilities Management began the $1.3 million construction of Mohonk Walk West, which will open on Oct. 15. -Mohonk Walk West is an extension of the Mohonk Walk that currently links South Manheim Boulevard to the Jacobson Faculty Tower, Old Main, and the Excelsior Concourse. It will connect Mohonk Walk to Van Den Berg Hall with heated granite stairs. Radiant heat beneath the concrete will prevent ice buildup in the winter.
“We’re performing the work now so that we can have the pedestrian thoroughfare completed prior to next winter, making it safer for students and faculty to walk between the Excelsior Concourse and Van Den Berg Hall,” said Director of Facilities Design and Construction John McEnrue.
The closing of the parking lot temporarily relocated eight handicapped parking spots and two service vehicle spaces to the Lecture Center Parking Lot 2. Fourteen handicapped spaces reside there.
Chairwoman of the campus parking committee Julie Majak stated that the Lecture Center may look closer, but it is a much more indirect route to the Jacobson Faculty Tower. The Humanities Building does not have an elevator so you have to be on the second floor just to reach the Jacobson Faculty Tower.
“It is the only lot on campus with eight spots that lead directly to an elevator,” declared Majak.
This lot shut down once before for elevator renovations, and according to Majak that created a lot of concern.
She is currently working with Facilities Management to look at the situation differently and come up with solutions.
There is a plan underway to create a crosswalk at the corner of Mohonk Avenue and Fairview Avenue so when the sidewalk comes to an end, students like Carbia can crossover and head safely down to Van Den Berg Hall.
Also, Facilities Management will soon add handicapped parking spaces to the Old Main Parking Lot, Old Main Circle, and Mohonk Parking Lot.
“It’s important to have those spots in places that will alleviate hardships for people with disabilities,” said Portia Altman, director of the Disability Resource Center.