NIU seeks funds for roadwork

By Jerry Lawrence

NIU is asking the State of Illinois to provide about $2 million for more repair work to university roads next year.

NIU students, staff and faculty members already have found hardship while trying to navigate Lucinda Avenue this year, and could find even more of NIU’s campus roadways torn up next year.

The requested funds would pay for the reconstruction of Stadium Drive, Lowden Circle, College Avenue and Gilbert Drive—over 5,790 lineal feet of street, gutter, curb and sidewalk torn up and replaced before and during fall semester next year.

NIU’s request for the capital project funds was approved by NIU’s governing board, the Board of Regents, on Sept. 24.

The Regents placed NIU’s road reconstruction fifth on a list of 22 requested funding allowances for capital projects at NIU, Illinois State University in Normal and Sangamon State University in Springfield.

The road improvement projects fall into the list behind funding requests to equip NIU’s Engineering Building and Rockford Education Center as well as requests from ISU for the construction of a Science Laboratory Building.

Don Beahringer, Regents associate vice chancellor for administrative and financial affairs, said the request now goes to the Illinois Board of Higher Education, which will integrate the Regents’ priority list with the priority lists from other state university governing boards.

As a consequence, NIU’s road construction project might receive a mediocre position on the IBHE’s list and fall prey to state budget constraints. Typically, the governor and state legislature only seriously consider the top 20 or so capital projects for higher education.

Beahringer said he is confident the road reconstruction project will receive some consideration from the IBHE.

“They see it as a high priority, but there are so many high priorities. I hope that we can see some of that funded and I think we can see some, if not all, of that funded,” he said.

Beahringer said NIU’s budget requests were exceptionally justified this year. “Northern’s budget for this year (fiscal year 1995) is one of the most solid that I have seen in a long time. In that I mean every project has merit,” he said.

Because the capital project requests are for the next fiscal year, the earliest construction could begin would be next July, according to Patricia Perkins, assistant to the vice president for Finance and Planning.

“The first thing we like to do is get an okay that we can look into it,” she added. Perkins said if the project gets at least a tentative green light, a firm will be hired to design and estimate how much the road construction project would cost. The project then would be opened up for bidding by contractors in the spring, with construction beginning in July.