Road repairs stranded at NIU

By Ken Goze

An apparent lack of funds has stranded road repairs at NIU, despite potential safety hazards created by the crumbling pavement.

NIU Project Manager Conrad Miller said the section of Lucinda Avenue west of Annie Glidden Road is the worst of 15 NIU streets recognized as needing major repair.

“I think it’s close to a safety hazard now,” Miller said, adding the road, built in the early 1960s, was not built to withstand the added weight and volume of bus traffic.

Miller said the pressure created by the buses starting and stopping, combined with water damage, has left the short section of Lucinda in front of Lincoln Hall buckled and collapsed.

“Basically, we have to build the road over from scratch,” Miller said, adding the roadbed and surface would be increased from 15 to 22 inches deep to handle bus traffic. A recent estimate put the repair cost for the 600-foot section at $136,000.

“We haven’t had any problems so far, but it’s apparent these are areas in need of repair,” said Huskie Line General Manager Charles Battista.

Other NIU streets slated for repair include the South, East, and West Stadium drives, the North and South Stevenson drives and the North, East and West Grant drives, Miller said.

Douglas Drive West, University Circle Drive and the Circle Extension near DuSable Hall also are in poor condition, Miller said.

Most of the streets needing repair lay west of Annie Glidden Road and include nearly half of NIU’s 5.4 miles of roadway.

Miller said the last cost estimates, made about two years ago, put the price of repairs at nearly $3 million, or about $220 per foot.

Although no funds seem to be available this year for the repairs, Miller said the Physical Plant will continue to request money for the project.

“We’ve grown accustomed to driving on hard surfaces and eventually, we’re going to have to put some money into these roads if we expect to continue using them,” Miller said.

While much of the budget has been taken up by needed academic improvements such as computer labs and the Faraday II addition, “sometimes you have to get back to basics,” Miller said.

While NIU roads await attention, state Rep. John Countryman said bids will be accepted March 13 for nearly $1 million of road and bridge repairs along Rt. 72.