Orange detour signs, endless green mesh fabric and road closure signs covering the University of Florida’s campus as it undergoes construction of 17 projects.
This includes upgrades to campus buildings as well as a new football facility and undergraduate dorms. With constant construction these projects have road closures and detours that have impacted the lives of students and faculty.
UF’s director of construction Frank Javaheri said UF currently has $ 1 billion worth of projects. Some are in the planning and design stage, while others are already under construction.
“During the summer, UF has more projects that create more construction,” he said. “There are fewer students and fewer faculty.”
One of the big projects happening on UF’s campus is the new Data Science and Technology building. The facility will house several departments including the College of Engineering and the College of Pharmacy.
He said the building is expected to house about 1,000 students and faculty, and cost around $ 150 million to build.
Another big project that is currently under construction is the new undergraduate dorms.
Javaheri said it would cost $ 187 million to build and is expected to open in August 2023.
UF’s Housing and Residence Life website states the decision was made to build new housing undergraduates following a demand study. This new residential dorm will be the first phase of the campus’ master housing plan.
In addition to the number of large projects, Javaheri said he believes each project is equally prioritized.
“They’re all important,” he said. “It is not about the size.”
Going forward, Javaheri said one of UF’s future projects will be to make the Northeast side of campus more pedestrian friendly.
UF’s Modeling / Traffic Impact Analysis shows plans to turn Union Road and part of Newell Drive into bike and pedestrian facilities.
“We want to encourage more pedestrian traffic on this side of campus,” Javaheri said.
Although campus construction means new facilities and opportunities, some students are feeling frustrated with the inconveniences that construction brings.
Tamar Deletis, 18, said she has a hard time accessing her labs and classes on time.
“Getting to class is super annoying,” she said. “It requires so much more time.”
Deletis said she believed the construction would be less of a disappointment to students if they knew what was being built.
“I think if I knew the cause of the construction I would care less,” she said. “But they ‘re keeping us in the dark.”
One of the biggest things that has been impacted by construction is the bus routes, she said. She said that she could tell that her bus route was much longer than it was today due to detours and roadblocks.
Currently, 21 bus routes on the Gainesville Regional Transit System have been redirected or closed due to construction, including Deletis’ route from her apartment.
As a result, she said she would try to cut her car down on travel time. However, she said the parking situation is not much better.
Recently, campus parking has been modified because of road closures, limiting parking spots for both students and faculty.
Construction has the biggest impact on current students. However, students such as Sofia Barreiro, a 19-year-old sophomore, said they believe it also impacts future students.
When Barreiro first visited UF’s campus she said unsure if she wanted to attend UF because of all the construction.
“I didn’t want to come here because it was all horrible,” she said.
Barreiro said the construction adds a lot of stress to her life. It’s already getting stressful to class, she said. The construction just makes it worse.
Michael Sawarynski, another sophomore, said one way the university could help students build up is to give more time in between classes.
If students had more time to get to class, people would be less stressed, he said.
“Last year, because of the construction I would make a lap around campus to get to my second class of the day,” he said. “I was always late.”
Sarah Hussian, 20, said she hopes construction gets better within the next year. However, with the recent rise of construction, she said she thinks it will only get worse.
“A destination that should be walking distance is made impossibly hard to get to,” she said.
As a student who often relies on the buses to get around campus, Hussian said construction has made every trip longer.
Routes that usually take 10 minutes turn into 20, sometimes 30, minute trips, she said.
“The bus systems are extremely unreliable because of the constantly changing construction,” she said.
For some students, construction has been a constant part of their college experience. As a junior, Barbara Ruiz, 19, said that since she came to UF there has always been
construction. She said she believed the construction projects were being dragged out when they could be completed in a faster period of time.
“It’s getting annoying,” she said. “I think I’m going to graduate and never see a construction-free campus.”