Construction to continue in campus and West Campus areas


Construction for Speedway Mall is still in progress. It began May 2016 and it is one of three projects currently underway on campus.
Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

UT is currently working on three construction projects on campus: the building of the Engineering Education and Research Center, and remodeling of areas around Speedway Mall and the Moody College of Communication, according to campus planning officials.

In addition, a number of West Campus operations are underway, such as the Rio Grande Reconstruction Project.

The project seeks to aesthetically and functionally improve Rio Grande Street between 24th and 29th streets in West Campus. The construction plans include new bike lanes, a new sidewalk, street lights and a number of aesthetic improvements.

Construction started in February 2016 and is scheduled for completion in spring or summer of 2017, said Courtney Black, senior public information specialist of the Austin Public
Information Department.

“Sometimes we might find an undetermined utility … or experience bad weather,” Black said. “We kind of keep it seasonal for that reason of unforeseen circumstances.”

Black said the construction budget is $7.5 million.

The Cockrell School of Engineering is in the process of replacing the Engineering Science Building with the Engineering Education and Research Center, a 430,000 square foot facility that will include open space for student projects, a library, a café and 21st-century teaching and research labs.

Lentz said the new facility is on time to be completed in summer 2017 and will cost $313.7 million to build.

Aerospace engineering sophomore Lauren Whitsell said she is excited for the new resources that will be available at the facility, such as an open commons area and higher-quality
lab technology.

“As a whole, I think it will make the [Engineering School] more of a community,” Whitsell said. “The design is also light and airy, which is rare for engineering buildings.”

The Speedway Mall area has been under construction since May 23, 2016 and is in the process of being converted into a pedestrian walkway for students, according to the UT construction advisory.

Mark Brooks, project manager at the UT System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction, said the completion date for the construction along Speedway and the East Mall is set for April 2018.

“We believe it’s tracking on time,” Brooks said. “We’ve added some utility work, and that is why the date has extended into 2018.”

The Speedway Mall construction cost $36 million, said Laurie Lentz, communications manager for the Office of Campus Planning.

“The first two phases of Speedway were wrapped up in December,” Lentz said. “Now, we are in the third phase, so that project is now largely taking place just a little bit south of the Student Activity Center up through 24th Street, and the construction is taking place on the east side of what will become the mall.”

Construction around the Moody College of Communication began Dec. 11, 2016, for landscaping and sidewalk remodeling purposes.

“They are on schedule, and that work is to be completed Feb. 23, 2017,” Lentz said. “The barricades that are up there now are going to come down by [then].”

From Jan. 4 to 16, the center median and eastbound lane on Dean Keeton Street between Guadalupe Street and Whitis Avenue were closed for landscape demolition and installation, according to the construction advisory.

Lentz said remodeling in the College of Communication area was requested by the city of Austin after the officials gave UT permission to build the Moody bridge over Dean Keeton Street, which is owned by the city.

Correction: We attributed the quote regarding the completion date for the construction along Speedway and the East Mall to Nick Hundley, Director of Communications for the Moody College. The quote was actually said by Mark Brooks, project manager at the UT System Office of Facilities Planning and Construction. The Texan regrets this error.