Western students returning from summer vacation were greeted by detour signs and road construction.
Facilities Management closed Big Red Way this summer to begin updating the university’s electrical system. The project is expected to be completed in March.
The section of Big Red Way at 15th Street is scheduled to re-open tomorrow. But another section of the street near Diddle Arena has been closed and will not re-open for several weeks, said Ed West, director of planning, design and construction.
Some parts of the electrical system are more than 40 years old, West said.
A power outage at the top of the Hill in November was caused by the electrical system’s old age, West said. There was also power outage in March at the Industrial Education Building on State Street.
The $36 million update was supposed to begin last March, but the state delayed giving Western permission to start the project, pushing the start date to the summer.
The current phase of the project was supposed to wrap up on Friday. But workers from Scott and Ritter, the Bowling Green construction contractor hired to update the electrical system, encountered a damaged sanitary sewer.
“We’ve encountered one sanitary sewer earlier in the project and another one (on Friday) that (Bowling Green Municipal Utilities) had to come in and repair,” West said. “It didn’t stop S&R, but it slowed them down.”
Big Red Way’s history also has planning and construction workers unsure of what to expect during the project. Since the project began, workers have found communication and gas lines they didn’t know existed.
“Because the road didn’t originally belong to the university, we don’t know what is down there,” West said.
But they weren’t the only ones who faced some problems.
Students returning to campus last week had to detour around Big Red Way into the Preston Center parking lot or go through the Diddle lot to get past the work.
Many students expressed frustration to the road work.
“I got confused,” Berea sophomore Brittney Johnson said. “I didn’t know you could go up on the curb because there’s not like a sign pointing. I thought it dead ended. I tried to back up, and then somebody told me I could go on the curb. I felt stupid.”
Owensboro sophomore Ann Marie Zimmerman said taking the detours caused her to use more gas.
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