PROVO — Brigham Young University officials announced this week a major campus renovation project that will close a main road through campus and reorient the campus to be more pedestrian friendly.
The university announced the project Tuesday night at a meeting of the Provo neighborhood chairs. A pedestrian mall will be created where Campus Drive currently exists between the J. Reuben Clark Law School and the Wilkinson Student Center.
Additionally parking near the Harris Fine Arts Center and Museum of Art, as well as drop-off access, will be added to the area. Construction will begin May 1 and is expected to be completed in three phases, with the final phase being completed in 2015.
The pedestrian mall — phase one — is expected to see "substantial completion" by Aug. 15. Phases two and three will see the permanent closure of Campus Drive and the addition of parking, as well as "improved pedestrian access from student housing to central campus."
"Our goal is to create a safe, pedestrian-friendly environment on campus with ample green space," university spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said.
Jenkins said in deciding to undertake the project, university officials looked at student feedback and a number of auto-pedestrian accidents that have occurred on BYU property.
One major change that has received a lot of positive feedback, according to Jenkins, is the planned addition of a sidewalk on the south side of North Campus Drive near the alumni building.
Another change likely to appease BYU students used to a shortage of parking will be the addition of about 170 parking spaces in the Harris Fine Arts Center area. Jenkins said university officials are unsure of how or if those will be divided between visitors and students, and stressed that the number may change as plans progressed.
"We will not see a decrease in parking, though," she said.
Access to buildings normally accessible from Campus Drive will see enhanced access to parking via a roundabout, according to Jenkins.
"This by no means is to keep people from campus, but to provide safe, enhanced access to campus," she said.
The university has been working with Provo City for months to evaluate the impact the project will have on traffic in the area and to find solutions to the increase in traffic city streets will see, according to Provo Mayor John Curtis. The mayor said the university has approached the project "with a high regard for community input."
Students and others can view the plans and give feedback at a blog created for the project.
"We very much want to hear from our students, the various campus entities, as well as working with the neighborhood program and our city officials," Jenkins said.