In July, Hill Hall Annex will be demolished to make way for a new open space at the southern end of Porthole Alley, adjacent to the large boulders that sit beside the sidewalk leading into campus. During the demolition, pedestrian traffic will be safely directed away from the white building that currently sits at the top of the parking lot between Hill Hall and Hanes Art Center.
“Safety is always our first concern,” said Sid Stone, director of construction management. “But we also know that many people use this part of campus to get to Franklin Street through Porthole Alley, and we will do everything we can to keep the pedestrian traffic flowing smoothly.”
In fact, safe, smooth traffic flow is the reason Porthole Alley will eventually become a pedestrian-only walkway.
The University’s Master Plan from 2006 calls for turning the narrow alley that pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers now try to navigate into a pedestrian walkway from Franklin Street to Cameron Avenue. Fire department vehicles will be able to access the walkway area, but all other vehicles will enter and exit at Columbia Street on a new two-lane road to be constructed between the Ackland Art Museum and Top of the Hill Restaurant. Work on the new road is expected to begin in September or October, Stone said.
Another construction project near the Ackland is scheduled to begin later this summer and continue well into the fall. As part of the overall campus Cogeneration Steam Tunnel Rehabilitation Project, the aging underground steam tunnel that runs beside the Ackland will be replaced. The Ackland Arts Steam Tunnel Replacement Project is unrelated to the Porthole Alley project, although it will also affect pedestrian traffic in the area.
With each phase of demolition, renovation or new construction, signs will be posted that clearly direct pedestrians and drivers through the area, Stone said. Contractors also are working closely with administrators at the nearby University United Methodist Church to make sure they are informed about the projects planned for the area, particularly to ensure the safety of the preschool students and teachers.
On the other side of the Swain Lot, work to renovate Hill Hall continues. Improvements to the building’s rotunda and the 450-seat auditorium began last summer and will continue throughout the fall.
Across campus, Hooker Fields – an area used by many intramural and club sports teams and other groups – will get a makeover with a safer form of the synthetic turf that’s currently in place. On Manning Drive, the Mary Ellen Jones Building is being renovated to provide a technological advanced research laboratory facility. This project will replace the existing exterior precast system with a new glass curtain wall, replace all outdated building systems and construct an elevated plaza over the existing service area between Mary Ellen Jones Building and Thurston Bowles.
In the heart of campus, summer construction for the Pit Improvement project June 27-Aug. 12 will include the construction of an accessible ramp at the Pit and replacement of damaged brick pavers in the area between Lenoir Dining Hall, Davis Library, Carolina Student Union, Student Stores and House Undergraduate Library.
In addition, the Town of Chapel Hill has several construction projects planned for the summer that will affect campus traffic. These include:
- Reconstructing Ridge Road from Manning Drive to Stadium Drive, with resurfacing between Stadium Drive and Country Club Road. Ridge Road will be closed to through traffic and traffic will be detoured to Stadium Drive and South Road;
- Resurfacing and reconstructing Friday Center Drive; and
- Repaving South Road, with work scheduled at night from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. People should expect one lane to be closed during overnight hours.
Additional information about planned town road construction projects is available at the Town of Chapel Hill website. Information about projects that have an impact on the Carolina campus is posted on the Transportation and Parking website.