Summer construction makes way for more traffic
With the completion of the Student Union and several road projects, students may find MTSU better prepared to sustain this fall’s populous.
Ron Malone, director of parking and transportation services, said this fall brings full access to all entrances to campus and to much-needed parking space. Additionally, the new 211,000-square-foot Student Union building provides students with three floors of food, lounge areas, computer amenities, conference rooms and space for student-run organizations.
“I think students are so excited to finally have space,” said Debra Sells, vice president of student affairs. “Obviously the space is desperately needed. Nothing makes me sadder than walking into the KUC on a busy day and see students on the floor eating Chick-fil-A lunches.”
Students walk into the union from the knoll to sleek glass elevators behind the student information center. The south side of the first floor features Phillip’s Bookstore, which has textbooks, a reading nook and MTSU apparel and accessories.
Heading toward the north side of the first floor, students can hang out in the game room or eat at Panda Express, Dunkin’ Donuts, Popeye’s and other stations that feature Mexican food, hot dogs, and a soup, salad and baked potato bar.
The first floor also offers MTSU’s first on-campus restaurant, the Blue Raider Grill. Students can have a sit down style dining experience similar to a Newk’s or Pei Wei.
Students climb the winding staircase to the second floor to find plenty of space to eat, study or watch TV.
“The Student Union is intended to be a ‘home away from home’ for our students – it is their building,” said Sidney McPhee, university president. “It has plenty of comfy seating, in all shapes and sizes, and several lounges with gigantic TVs. It has huge windows with sweeping views of campus. It is a wonderful, beautiful place.”
The second floor houses a computer area, which has 14 PCs and eight Macintoshes with free printing available.
Conference rooms are also available for study groups and meetings similar to that of the James E. Walker Library. Small screens outside of the doors list availability and can be reserved online. The remainder of the second floor is occupied by the ballroom that can seat 800 people in a dining setting and 1,500 people in theater seating.
“The majority of the space is for students,” said Sarah Sudak, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of student life. “Only half of one floor is dedicated for those who support students.”
After moving out of the KUC, the Student Government Association, Student Programming, Student Involvement and Leadership, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and the Student Organization center take the third floor of the building with lounge areas in the remaining spaces.
“We expect that the new building will attract a great deal of students its first weeks of operation,” said Coby Sherlock, SGA student body president. “Our SGA has prepared itself to use the expected increased student traffic in order to reach out to the students to discuss the ways for us to help improve our campus our 101st year here.”
Sherlock expects the new building to help the SGA to better serve the student body and to enhance students’ experiences.
“The new home plays a key role in the complete transformation of the SGA,” Sherlock said. “Students should be proud to know that we will be on campus this year and engaging with the student body, so that our campus can move forward and remain the best university in the state.”
The parking situation for the university has drastically improved according to Ron Malone, director of parking and transportation services.
“The wonderful thing about this fall is that the bulk of the road construction, like MTSU Boulevard with the roundabout, and the new entrance are done,” Malone said. “We were very fortunate to complete it this summer. This is one of the few falls where we enter with full access. It allows the shuttle buses to run where they need to.”
With full access to the roadways, Malone anticipates the bus system will work better than it did in the spring as the heart of campus was undergoing heavy construction. While the Silver Route ran last semester, it ran on a trial basis. For this semester, the Silver Route will run full-time.
“The Silver Route runs the Red Route backwards, so when you have individuals in the gravel lot, the red is heading in the other direction,” Malone said. “It’s basically running the Red Route backwards and helping the congestion.”
Three large new buses were added to the routes at the end of August, and the two parking garages being built are currently on schedule. Both garages are slated for completion at the end of spring 2013.
Construction on a new roundabout at the intersection of Lightening Way and Champion Way will begin over winter break to avoid a three-way intersection that could potentially make traffic more congested.
No further changes to the lots are expected for the fall, and each lot is ready for student and faculty use.