Students ready, campus sort of

University of Kentucky students moving into dorms this weekend will find a campus under construction.

Although UK officials said several construction projects will wrap up by the time an estimated 4,000 freshmen move in this weekend, others will remain.

“The construction work that has impacted pedestrian and vehicular traffic on and near the university during the summer will have been substantially completed by Friday morning,” said Bob Wiseman, vice president for facilities.

About 27,000 students are expected at UK for the fall semester.

Most of the construction work taking place on campus is related to the first phase of expansion at UK Chandler Medical Center. Under current construction are a new 1,600-space parking lot and two eight-story patient care towers. The project is estimated to cost $775 million.

One of the more inconvenient aspects of that project has been Kentucky Utilities workers installing power lines through campus to the hospital. Those projects were taking place at Hilltop Avenue and University and Cooper drives, as well as at the intersection of Columbia and Woodland avenues.

Most of those utility projects will be cleared by the time students return, but crews at Columbia and Woodland will remain for a few more days, officials said.

Some students who arrived on campus early were put off by the mess.

“I hate it,” said Amy Thompson, 20, a junior majoring in English education. “The thing I hate most about it is just looking at it.”

Another construction project that will affect returning students is the expansion and renovation of the UK Bookstore on Euclid. That project, costing an estimated $3.1 million, will continue until November, but officials said pedestrian and road traffic will not be disrupted.

Other projects that have already been completed include utility work on Scott Street, a new student health building at the intersection of Limestone and Rose streets, and cleanup work in front of the hospital’s new parking structure, at Transcript Avenue.

Washington Avenue remains closed as a result of construction at the hospital.

Also, two lanes of the four-lane University Drive have been cordoned off with traffic barrels as a trial to determine whether bicycle lanes can be added without dramatically affecting traffic.

Despite efforts to minimize the impact of construction on students, some criticized the construction schedule.

“There were some questions about why they didn’t start a lot earlier,” said Chris Matthews, 20, a junior majoring in marketing. “There’s a lot of stuff on the roads.”

UK officials said construction has been in full swing all summer.

Other students were just glad to see the campus upgrades, particularly around the hospital.

“It looks brand new,” said Nithin Shah, 18, a freshman biology major.

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