Lucinda Avenue to undergo $550K alignment


By Nick Bosshart

NIU will pay $550,000 in repairs to fix a misalignment in the $4.5 million Lucinda Avenue extension completed Nov. 19 that connects Lucinda Avenue to Stadium Drive West.

Lucinda Avenue is not aligned with Stadium Drive West by 30 feet, which raises the possibility of safety concerns, said NIU President Doug Baker.

The Board of Trustees approved the project at a Feb. 18 Board of Trustees special meeting. The 1,495 foot extension project began in April 2015 and paved through what was once Douglas Hall. The scope of work is to provide the reconstruction of about a 485 feet long section of existing road extending west from Stadium Drive West. At the end of the project, the resulting segments of road west of Stadium Drive West will be renamed Lucinda Avenue to avoid confusion.

“[The alignment of Lucinda Avenue and Stadium Drive West] was kind of left off the list,” said Alan Phillips, vice president of Administration and Finance. “If we had to go back and do it all over again, we would have included [the road alignment] in the first place.”

Baker said the repair is a priority because the turn in the road is a tight fit for two Huskie Buses passing one another and increases the likelihood of a potential collision.

Trustee Marc Strauss was the only trustee who voted against the repair because he said he does not believe aligning the roads is a top priority capital investment.

NIU will pay for the repair with the $233,861 left over from a $8 million Federal Highway Administration grant that NIU received in 2004 to repair roads on a property west of the Convocation Center, according to Thursday’s Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee agenda.

“This sounds to me more like making sure that we’re able to spend federal money than something we actually have to have,” Strauss said. “I can’t believe that on the list of all things we can spend… straightening that crick in the road is top of the list.”

Phillips said the money must be used sooner rather than later because the federal government will collect back unused funds.

Baker said NIU should use the Federal Highway Grant fund for this project because the grant was given as free money and without it NIU will have to fund the project through its own funds.

“The nice thing is we get a 40 percent discount [from the Federal Highway Grant fund], so to speak,” Baker said.

NIU will pay the remaining $316,139 with a 2010 series bond fund over the course of two or more fiscal years, Phillips said.

Trustee John Butler said the funds could be spent towards capital projects involving road construction, residence hall repairs or other building maintenance projects.

Baker said if this item is not passed now, the project would probably not be completed for a considerable amount of time due to more money that would have to be funded by NIU.