Main campus during COVID-19: Safety enhancements, utility replacement and building construction
While campus has been mostly devoid of people since March, it certainly hasn’t been quiet. When faculty, staff and students begin returning, they will find that Facilities and its contractors have been hard at work on several projects connected to supporting the University’s strategic and long-term framework plans to further build community, promote engaged learning and provide a quality campus environment.
Additional safety enhancements
While many projects were under way or planned prior to this spring, the COVID-19 outbreak has also caused the facilities team to coordinate several projects to prepare for the safe and healthy return to campus operations.
Clear protective shields are being installed at customer service points and on Clemson’s Tiger Transit buses to protect employees, students and campus visitors from the spread of COVID-19. More visible Healthy Clemson campus signage will be posted around campus.
Hand-sanitizer stands crafted by Clemson’s carpenters in Facilities have been placed by custodians throughout buildings to help employees, students and visitors stay safe from disease spread.
Pedestrian safety enhancements
One of the long-term framework goals for the University is to transform the pedestrian experience and further establish a culture of safety and mobility on campus.
Several projects aimed at enhancing safety were started before the campus closed.
Pedestrian safety prompted gates to be installed in the heavily pedestrian-traveled section between Gantt Circle and Fort Hill Street, and these gates now limit traffic to pedestrians and authorized vehicles. Further, the gates were installed to reduce traffic flow and to promote pedestrian safety through the Calhoun/Highway 93 intersection at Sikes.
In response to dangerous wrong-way traffic along Daniel Drive, a set of gates was installed at the intersection between Daniel Dr. and Cherry Road. The gates will allow traffic to freely flow from Daniel to Cherry.
Additionally, Parkway Drive is converting to two-way traffic to reduce the number of vehicles traveling in and out of the busy entrance to the Sikes parking lot at Calhoun Drive.
Also important to the future of the University is the underground utility construction throughout the campus. Additional Phases of this project had been scheduled for fall 2020 and would have been very disruptive.
Instead, Facilities has been using the quiet time on campus to dig up roads and replace underground cables and equipment in a multi-year project to provide a reliable power supply and prevent outages on campus. Some of the utilities were installed in the 1950s and are unsuitable for the technology-dependent modern college campus.
Facilities has transitioned the campus electrical distribution feed from the old Duke Power substation that was built in 1968 to a new substation constructed on the southeast edge of campus. The planned outage work was completed May 20.
Workers are digging under roads in eight places on campus now and plan two more road-crossings in the weeks to come. Some of them, such as the construction in front of Hendrix Student Center along McMillan Road, would have been very disruptive if done while classes are in session.
Construction has continued on several buildings while most employees and students were quarantined at home:
- The Early Childhood Education Center is nearing completion with a targeted open date of August. Clemson’s long-anticipated childhood center allows for an improved work/life balance enhancement and valuable resource for faculty, staff and students. The center is now accepting applications.
- Construction on the Samuel J. Cadden Chapel is progressing smoothly. Most of the concrete walls have been poured for the garden level. Scheduled next are the concrete slabs, which are expected to be completed in June.
- The new home for the College of Business continues to proceed as scheduled. A dual-tower, five-story structure across from Sikes Hall in the heart of campus, the new facility houses 176,000 square feet of space to accommodate growth and become a model of sustainability with quality daylighting, recycled or locally sourced materials.
- Construction of the new Soccer Operations Complex has continued as scheduled. The target date for completion of the facility is fall 2020.
Projects aimed at environmental improvements, campus beautification and the campus landscape currently ongoing or being planned include:
In April, crews completed the first phase of the Hunnicutt Creek Restoration Project to prevent continued erosion of the banks, which washed sediment into ponds and uprooted trees. The next phases of the project involve grading the banks, installing boulder cascades, revetments and replacing invasive plant species with native species. The first phase of Hunnicutt Creek restoration began construction in August of 2019 and was completed in April 2020. The project restored degraded banks while stabilizing and promoting vegetative growth.
The design phase also moved ahead of a solar parking canopy to be constructed on parking lot R-6 along Clemson Boulevard. With actual construction work planned for next summer, this project will bring more renewable energy to the main campus and is one of several planned for campus parking areas. In addition to the electricity generated by the solar panels, the canopy will be equipped with electric vehicle charging spaces and LED lighting for increased security.
Safety continues to be the number one priority, and faculty, staff, student and visitors will enjoy these important campus improvements when they return to the main campus.