Orange detour signs, endless green mesh fabric and road closed signs cover 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 dorm. With constant construction these projects have caused road closures and detours that have impacted the lives of students and faculty.
UF’s Director of Construction Frank Javaheri said that 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 which creates more construction,” he said. “There’s less students and fewer faculty.”
One of the bigger 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 that the building is expected to house 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 will 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 for undergraduates following a demand study. This new residential dorm will be the first phase of the campus’ master housing plan.
Despite the number of large projects, Javaheri said he believes that each project is equally prioritized.
“They’re all important,” he said. “It is not about the size.”
Going forward, Javaheri said that 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 mostly 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 that she believes that construction would be less of a frustration 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 have been impacted by construction is the bus routes, she said. She said that she can tell that her bus route is much longer than it previously was due to detours and roadblocks.
Currently, 21 bus routes on the Gainesville Regional Transit System have been redirected or closed due to the construction, including Deletis’ route from her apartment.
As a result, she said that she tries to use her car to cut down on travel time. However, she said that the parking situation isn’t much better.
Recently, campus parking has been modified because of road closures, limiting parking spots for both students and faculty.
Construction has caused the biggest impact on current students. However, students such as Sofia Barreiro, a 19-year-old sophomore, said that they believe it also impacts future students.
When Barreiro first visited UF’s campus she said was unsure if she wanted to attend UF because of all of the construction.
“I didn’t want to come here because it was all horrible,” she said.
Barreiro said that the construction adds a lot of stress to her life. It’s already stressful getting to class, she said. The construction just makes it worse.
Michael Sawarynski, another sophomore, said one way the university could help students with the construction 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 have to 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 increase of construction, she said that 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 that construction has made every trip longer.
Routes that normally take 10 minutes turn into 20, sometimes 30, minute trips, she said.
“The bus systems are extremely unreliable because of 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 believes that the construction projects are being dragged out when they could be completed in a faster period of time.
“It is getting annoying,” she said. “I think I’m going to graduate and never see a construction-free campus.”