Beginning in June, the main entrance to the University of Missouri-Rolla campus from U.S. Interstate 44 will receive a much-needed facelift. In partnership with the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), UMR plans to improve traffic flow and beautify the landscaping along University Drive, formerly known as 14th Street, adjacent to campus.
The public is invited to attend a groundbreaking ceremony to be held at 2 p.m. Friday, June 4, in the grassy area along University Drive between Missouri Enterprise and the I-44 overpass. Officials from UMR, MoDOT and the city of Rolla will be on hand to discuss the planned improvements with the public. Maps of the groundbreaking location are available from the UMR public relations office. Call (573) 341-4328 for more information.
The University Drive improvements will establish an attractive entryway to the UMR campus, says Ted Ruth, assistant director of engineering services and construction management in UMR’s physical facilities department. "This project will enhance the entry into the Havener Center and the new Residential College and provide safer passage for pedestrians and vehicular traffic control."
University Drive is currently a two-lane road. Once the improvements are complete, there will be two lanes in each direction, plus a center turning lane. Both sides of the street will feature widened sidewalks. The university also plans to close a portion of Spring Street adjoining University Drive allow the two university parking lots it divides to be joined into one lot, creating approximately 270 parking spaces.
The expansion project also calls for extensive landscaping. Two rows of ginko biloba and zelkova serrata trees will line the sidewalk on the north side of the street and a single row will line the south side. In addition, there will be continual planting of shrubbery and flowers to suit each season.
The project is scheduled for completion in October. At that time University Drive and a portion of State Street surrounding the Havener Center will close to vehicular traffic. Eventually, campus officials hope to create a pedestrian mall on the site.
The University Drive enhancement project is a collaboration between UMR and MoDOT, but the city of Rolla was instrumental in the planning because of their cooperation with the street closings, says Ruth. "The improvements will beautify the city of Rolla, not just the UMR campus. We see these improvements as an extension of the City of Rolla’s beautification efforts."