Construction at Tech is simply out of control

Photo by Sara Schmitt

If you are like me, you would appreciate it if there were less unnecessary and disruptive construction on this campus.

That which is occurring on Atlantic Drive is only the most recent of heinous offenses. The construction, which involves replacement of aged steam lines, has been ongoing since March 2016. That is nearly a year of work, and more of the area is impassable than when construction began due to the addition of renovation on Van Leer. I guess the thought process there was that “the area doesn’t seem quite impassable enough, so let’s go ahead and start more construction.”

There is also the recently “finished” work on the intersection between Hemphill and Ferst Drive. The redoing of that area was nothing short of a travesty. It began with the literal axing of two beautiful old willow oak trees, which provided great shade, and it ended with the creation of a hideous pimple that not only disgustingly protrudes into the intersection but also hurts traffic along Ferst due to the elimination of the continuous-flow junctures.

Now, it would be fair to argue at this point that the Atlantic Drive renovations are by no means concerned with glitz. Yet, the way this project has been approached leaves much to be desired. In July 2015, Atlantic Drive’s steam lines were repaired. That somehow morphed into the approval at an October 2015 University System of Georgia Board of Regents meeting for Tech to go ahead in replacing the aged steam lines between Fourth Street and Ferst Drive at a cost of $12.5 million in institutional funds and with a timetable of three years. That is an incredible amount of time and money for a single renovation project. And while I do understand that the project is of obvious importance, the seemingly lackadaisical timetable indicates it is not being prioritized, which it clearly should be.

Nevertheless, the work at the Hemphill intersection is epitomic of a great deal of the construction projects on campus throughout my time here. So what is the motive? Some banal attempt to make Tech more attractive to potential recruits? If so, the administration needs a reality check. Tech’s flashy buildings or sparkly sidewalks are not what draw smart kids; it is the prestige and quality of the education. If the institute misses out on some by not choosing to invest in surface-level gleam, that is perfectly fine. We probably do not want those kinds of minds here anyway.

What is the purpose of all of this work? And who decided that they would go ahead with it? I do not remember the student body ever stating categorically that all the sidewalks need to have the same patterning, a mission being apparently pursued across Tech’s campus with what seems to be near-obsession.

In any case, it is not hard to make the judgment that there could be improvement in the methodology of the construction at Tech.