By Teresa Flores
As students, faculty and staff head into the spring semester, Northeast Texas Community College’s 18-month construction project continues.
During the winter break, WRL Construction began work on updating the underground utility loop, the first construction project of the $19.9 Campus Improvement Plan. WRL Superintendent Kelly Norris said the construction crew’s goal was to try and take advantage of the empty campus during the holidays, but had some difficulty with weather at the time.
In the upcoming week, the campus community should expect most of the construction to take place between the United Health Sciences (UHS), Math and Science (MS) and Humanities buildings. The side door in Humanities that leads to UHS and MS buildings is closed off. The sidewalk centered between all three buildings is blocked off as well. The first lane of parking near behind Humanities will be affected as well with some parking spaces being closed off.
Northeast President Dr. Brad Johnson said he is satisfied with the progress of the construction so far. “As I begin to see renderings of how our spaces will look when we’re done, I am getting quite excited,” he said. “This campus will be a better place in many ways for students, faculty and staff alike. Our architect and construction company have helped us find some valuable way to enhance our project, and the weather has worked in our favor so far.”
So far the construction has only caused some minor disruptions for students and faculty, which include the closing of various areas such as sidewalks and parking spaces.
Though, the president said these incidences are to be expected. “I have not heard of significant disruptions yet, but they will certainly come,” Johnson said. “A renovation project like this will at times cause inconveniences and distractions.”
As construction progresses, updates and information on closures and caution areas will be posted on a weekly basis via email, social media, and on the college’s website. Northeast Public Information Director Jodi Weber and Webmaster Shane Pitts work in conjunction to provide updates and area maps for the campus community that highlight high construction areas.
“We realize that the construction process will cause varying degrees of disruption throughout the coming months and we are meeting on a weekly basis to determine communications needs regarding the project,” Weber said. “Keeping the campus at large informed and safe is a top priority. Faculty, staff and students should receive regular e-mails with construction updates to make them aware of affected work areas.”
Director of Plant Services Tim Johnston is overseeing the project on behalf of Northeast. Johnston said that the construction, so far, has gone according to plan. “I believe that WRL has done a very good job as far as their timeline and staying in tune with everything,” he said.
The project will continue to make its way into more high traffic areas, which will cause the campus community to look for alternate routes to access certain buildings and facilities.
“As challenging as the start up of the job and the parking lot has been, once we start through the campus itself, everything becomes intensified because of how close buildings are and how close we will be among the students and faculty,” Norris said. “Communication between ourselves and with the campus as a whole will be critical.”
Johnston said that he knows there will be some difficulties and the community should be aware of any signs during this point of the project. “It’s just going to be an inconvenience to go to a different location for whatever you need,” he said. “Hopefully we are going to keep it clear, signage will be posted enough in advance so that it’s not a big deal.”
As for what the the campus should expect down the road, Johnston said the most challenging obstacle, but the biggest change, is yet to come. “The hardest part will be keeping up with the construction updates for when we do restroom closures and need to redirect students and others who come on campus,” he said. “That’s going to change all the time and be hard for people to know.” He added that any construction that will cause a big disruption is scheduled to occur during the upcoming spring break.
The plant director advises the campus community to keep safety in mind. “Be patient,” he said. “Pay attention to all the barriers. Adhere to that, and we won’t have any problems.”
Visit ntcc.edu/construction for up-to-date information of the ongoing construction happening on campus.