Renovation plan to be approved

By Ken Goze

Students passing through the Wirtz Quadrangle will find the area a safer, more desirable place after the approval and completion of scheduled renovations.

Although the main thrust of the proposed $300,000 project is the beautification of the quadrangle, improvements in utility and safety have been planned, including the complete reconfiguration of the service drive. “We want to separate pedestrians and vehicles by providing more walkways and less traffic,” NIU Project Manager Conrad Miller said.

Miller said the present service drive in the quadrangle is “U”-shaped, causing a safety hazard because students often cut across the quadrangle on their way to Wirtz Hall or the Visual Arts Building.

Under the proposed plan, the service drive would resemble an elongated, two-lane “9” which would allow people to be dropped off at the Health Center, but would eliminate most of the parking spaces in the area.

While the elimination of the parking lot might cause initial inconviniences, other lots should be able to absorb the additional load, Miller said.

Although the planning committee had hoped to eliminate the service drive, the idea had to be abandoned because the drive provides the only access to Wirtz and the heating plant, Miller said.

The new drive will provide necessary access for trash pickup, delivery of salt to the central water softener at the heating plant, and a fire lane, while at the same time cutting down on vehicle traffic, Miller said.

In addition to the service drive, the new quadrangle will feature more greenery, park benches, improved lighting, and more walkways. The plan also calls for the leveling of existing walkways near Wirtz Hall, which are sloped steeply toward the building. Leveling the walkways will allow easier access by handicapped students as well as reducing ice hazards.

Build Illinois Funds are being used to fund the project, of which $158,000 has already been appropriated.

The current plans were drawn by the civil engineering firm of Hampton, Lenzini, and Renwick, Inc., of Elgin, Ill. If the plan is approved, bids from contractors will be accepted around January, and construction could begin as early as April, Miller said.