May 11, 2012

Project will enrich campus life, enhance safety

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Plans for a pedestrian mall that will be built this summer on the east side of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Faner Hall will enrich campus life and enhance student safety.

The $1.25 million project will include replacing the current walkways, and add fresh landscaping, raised planters, seating areas, and improved outdoor lighting, said Phil Gatton, director of Plant and Service Operations. 

Work should begin next week, and will require installation of a temporary construction safety fence.  The project should be complete by mid-August.

The landscaping project is from Faner Drive south to the Student Center, and connects with landscaping from the pedestrian overpass to the area between the site of the Student Services Building and Parkinson Hall.  The revamped area will be more pedestrian friendly by eliminating the staid paved walkways with multi-colored concrete and various aggregate materials, and project a more welcoming environment for students to meet, Gatton said. 

“Students will be able to enjoy the environment and interact with other students,” he said.

Because of the wide area of existing concrete, the area east of Faner Hall can resemble an airport runway, Gatton said.  The University recently installed steel bollards to restrict vehicle traffic, particularly in the area between Faner Hall and the rear of Altgeld Hall, Allyn Building, Shryock Auditorium and Parkinson Hall, because of safety concerns, Gatton said.

“We’ve had a number of instances where people drive too fast on these areas they consider to be a thoroughfare and you have pedestrians walking,” he said.  “We want to eliminate that and make it safer for students to walk.”

Vehicles will enter on a scheduled and “limited” basis only, Gatton said.

“We are going to try and keep traffic off of this altogether,” he said.  “There will still be occasional deliveries but it’s going to be controlled.”

The project will make the area more functional and beautify the campus, he said.  The project will also remove a ramp that connects to Faner Hall that is in disrepair.

The outdoor lighting improvements will address some of the lighting issues in the area, Gatton said.  Path lights along the walkways will improve the lighting, he said.

The redesign will also add an emergency phone to the area.  Constituency-based Campus Safety Walks identified the area as needing a lighting upgrade and other safety improvements.  The annual Safety Walks assist University officials in identifying safety concerns on campus.