Making the campus more accessible to those with limited mobility is the goal of a collaboration between University Facilities and Civil Engineering that will add more sidewalk ramps and routes for those in wheelchairs to get from parking lots to buildings.
The University allocated more than $400,000 from the Facilities maintenance budget for the improvements.
University Facilities Director Todd Barnette noted allocating funds to these projects in challenging financial times shows how important enhancing accessibility is to University leaders.
According to a 2020 University Facilities report, the improvements “reflect the University’s ongoing commitment to foster an environment of inclusivity.”
Some work will begin this month with the addition of ramps and repair of existing ramps along Collings Street near Redfern Student Health Center, said Mike Smith, director of Maintenance Services. Crews will also be replacing deteriorating curbs, gutters and ramps along Calhoun Drive at Riggs Hall and the intersection with Fernow.
More extensive improvements are planned for the summer with the aim to improve routes from accessible parking spaces to campus buildings.
Jennifer Ogle, professor and associate chair of Civil Engineering, and doctoral candidates Sababa Islam and Fengjiao Zou have developed one of the most comprehensive campus pedestrian accessibility geographic information systems in the country. Through GIS mapping, drones and other tools, they have determined the best routes from parking areas to help identify accessibility improvements, said Channon Chambers, building official at University Facilities.
Information from the app that Islam is developing will help individuals with access needs find the best routes to reach their destinations, as well as the location of accessible entrances, restrooms and elevators. It works much like a GPS app in a car, but on a smaller scale for a pedestrian on campus. Zou has helped train dozens of engineering students to help collect the extensive data on campus accessibility conditions. This program is growing awareness for access that will have long-lasting impacts on the public infrastructure.
Other improvements planned for the coming year include adding automatic doors to the Flour Daniel building and the Biosystems Research Complex; new accessible restrooms in the Poole Agricultural Center and Godfrey Hall; and sidewalk improvements and construction around Barre and McAdams halls and the Cadden Chapel and Daniel Hall Annex.
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