Construction disrupts Techwood Drive traffic

Construction recently began at the corner of Bobby Dodd Way and Williams St. NW. The sidewalk is being refurbished, like many others on campus, along with the tunnel under the I75-85 connector. // Photo by Viivin Sudharsan Student Publications

Tech students may have noticed the abundance of construction in the past few months; between new bike lanes and repaved roads, it seems like these projects never end. Joining the existing work zones scattered around campus, a new construction project on East Campus will launch and close down its nearby paths.

The Institute is starting construction on the Thomas A. Fanning Student-Athlete Performance Center, a revamped athletics facility replacing the Edge/Rice Center attached to Bobby Dodd Stadium. 

The nearby sidewalks and streets will be closed for extended periods of time to accommodate the work. 

The Techwood Drive sidewalk was supposed to be closed on Feb. 7, and the southbound road lane would close on Feb. 12. Heather Hardie, senior construction manager, said that these weather delayed these closures, but work would begin as soon as the elements permitted them to continue. 

These portions of Techwood Drive will remain blocked for over two years, with their reopening slated for Spring 2026. 

Additionally, the sidewalk and plaza next to the stadium on Bobby Dodd Way will be closed until Sept. 1 of this year. Hardie said that soft demolition will begin this month, while the Edge/Rice Center buildings will start demolition in March.

The prolonged road closures are because of the small area around the athletic facilities. Rebuilding in the same footprint of the old Center will limit space to lay equipment down, necessitating work zones taking over the roads and sidewalks.

Hardie was unsure of the total impact to those traveling along Techwood Drive but assured that routes would still be available. Pedestrians can use the open sidewalks across from the stadium on both streets, although some crosswalks will be closed as well to usher them around the construction at the intersection of Techwood Drive and Bobby Dodd Way.

While northbound traffic between North Ave. and Bobby Dodd Way can still travel on Techwood Drive, southbound traffic will be rerouted for over two years. This requires drivers to use Bobby Dodd Way to go behind East Campus when approaching North Ave. or use the Fifth St. bridge and Spring St. to go south of campus. 

Hardie stated that Stinger bus routes would have to change for the two years and that bikers and scooter users would have to adapt. While she was unsure what this would look like, she assumed that most bicyclists or scooter users would resort to riding on the remaining sidewalk.

The construction also raises the concern of parking for many East Campus residents who rely on street parking along Techwood Drive. Both the ER 51 and 55 passes rely on spaces available throughout East Campus Housing, Techwood Drive, Fowler St. and Sixth St. Kira Spivey, first-year PSYC, who lives on East Campus in Harrison Residence Hall, parks her car on campus under the ER 51 street parking pass.

“I drive my car around campus so I park in the E51 parking lot, which goes around the back of Harrison and Techwood, and with all the construction, it means all of my parking spaces are taken away,” Spivey said. 

Frustrations at Tech have grown with the increase of construction around campus. Sidewalk closures and detours have made campus commutes increasingly difficult, especially through cold winter months and rainy conditions.

“I’m paying upwards of $500 for my parking pass so having things being closed off is frustrating, I feel that Tech had so much time to take care of this kind of construction before school was fully in session and they didn’t; now I can barely find parking and I’ve been late to class because I couldn’t find a parking spot,” Spivey said. 

An annual individual parking permit costs $795 for a full year. 

An additional project, which began on Third St. and its tunnel on Feb. 2, has made parking spaces along the north side of Third Street unavailable. Third Street is in between Hopkins Residence Hall and the GT Connector, in the heart of East Campus. Once work on Techwood Drive begins, an additional temporary bus stop will be created, according to Tech Infrastructure and Sustainability. 

Though frequent construction causes much disruption for Tech students and nearby residents, there are many innovative developments achieved by these closures. The opening of the Divine Nine Plaza, creating a place for Tech’s nine historically Black fraternities and sororities to gather, is an example of how construction across campus is contributing to a greater overall cause. 

In the next few years, the Institute is set to complete Tech Square Phase 3, the Science Square, Aerospace Engineering Aircraft Hangar, renovations to D.M. Smith, Tech Veterans Walk of Honor, Ferst Drive Realignment and Cycle Track and Progressive Workspace Pilots. While these projects may be disruptive in the short term, the dynamic nature of the Insitiute necessitates the change.