Campus Construction Continues

Virginia Tech’s campus has been bustling with construction vehicles and equipment recently. There are two main projects underway at the same time, both expected to be finished in late 2021: a new residence hall and the Holden Hall renovation. Additionally, the Perry Street parking lot has been going through periodic closures as Virginia Tech’s facilities team updates the chilled water lines in the area.

The new residence hall began construction earlier this year and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2021, in time for that year’s fall semester. The current estimated budget is $105 million, according to Virginia Tech’s Associate Vice President for University Relations, Mark Owczarski.

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One of the three buildings that will make up the new residence hall
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Construction on the third tower has begun

The other project that has drawn students’ attention is the construction going on in the Perry Street parking lot. While there is a new multi-modal transportation facility planned for that space in the future, the current work being done is not related to those projects.

“Currently new pipe is being installed in that area (as part of a chilled water distribution network),” explained Owczarski. “That’s what you see now.”

Owczarski also explained that there will be multiple projects in the Perry Street area, alongside the multi-modal transportation facility. The completion dates are not set, but there is also a new lab building and Hitt Hall planned for that space.

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The current section of parking lot that is closed off
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Pipework being done

Holden Hall’s renovation is also making serious progress, as the older section of building  that will be replaced has been completely demolished. The renovation of that area of academic buildings will clock in at around $72 million, according to Owczarski, and is scheduled to be finished in December of 2021.

Blacksburg proposes e-scooter regulations

Since August, Virginia Tech’s campus has been full of students zipping across campus on electric scooters. The introduction of the new way to get around campus is part of a research study collaboration between Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) and Spin.

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And while most students have used the scooters in the intended fashion, some misuse of the scooters has prompted the Town of Blacksburg to start work on putting in place regulations for e-scooters off Virginia Tech’s campus.

The regulations were introduced by town attorney, Larry Spencer, earlier in October as Ordinance 1909.

A big concern that has been voiced since the start of the VTTI study is that students are prone to leave the scooters parked haphazardly across campus.

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“The big restriction is that they wouldn’t be permitted on downtown sidewalks,” noted Spencer.  “They also wouldn’t be permitted to be parked in a manner that obstructs sidewalks or pedestrian areas.  We will also try to establish safety and operational requirements through permits with companies like Bird, Lime, etc.”

Virginia’s General Assembly adopted legislation in 2019 that gives local governments, like Blacksburg’s, the ability to require permits from electric scooter companies.

“However, a locality has to use this authority by [December 31, 2019],” explained Spencer. “Lots of local governments in Virginia are working on similar ordinances.”

Electric scooters have burst on to the scene as a common mode of transportation in the past couple years. More and more people use them in cities across the country., and on Virginia Tech’s campus, personal electric scooters can be seen all over.

“[Ordinance 1909] is a good start, but I’m sure that we will have to look it again in the coming years and after the use of motorized skateboard and scooters becomes more widespread,” said Spencer.

While there aren’t any current plans for the Town of Blacksburg to bring an electric scooter company into the downtown area, Spencer noted that the town had had some conversations with Bird a while back.

Ordinance 1909 is set for a public hearing and vote on November 15 at 7:30 p.m.

 

Blacksburg Breakdown: Arts and Culture

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The Lyric Theatre, in the middle of downtown Blacksburg (courtesy of stepintoblacksburg.org)

For this week’s arts and culture podcast on The News Feed, Nick and Henry lay out some exhibitions and concerts going on this weekend and throughout the semester that folks can enjoy. While a couple events are only this weekend, we’ll also point out a few things that are going on all semester long for people to check out when they have a chance.

For more information on any of the events talked about in this week’s podcast, please feel free to read through these various links:

Grand opening of Alexander Black House’s 2nd floor

Fiddlin’ at the Lyric

Art exhibitions at Moss Arts Center

Jazzy Ash & the Leaping Lizards