Feb 03 2007

Facade for UA science building OK’d

Tuscaloosa News

By Adam Jones


The new science and engineering complex at the University of Alabama will look similar to Shelby Hall, its future neighbor.

UA trustees approved the exterior look of the $69 million project, which should be finished by fall 2009.

Campus officials are proceeding with the project despite the possibility of losing federal money. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had pledged to deliver $59 million for the project, divided into two equal grants.

One grant, worth $29.6 million has been approved, but when Congress switched to a Democratic majority, all earmarks were slashed from the proposed budget. That included such projects as UA construction.

UA has plans to borrow the balance if federal funding does not come through, according to documents presented to trustees. However, President Robert Witt said in an interview earlier this month that he is optimistic that the money will come.

Work should begin later this year for the two buildings that will change traffic patterns in the northeast part of the campus, because Campus Drive will be cut off from Ferguson Center to the east and Hackberry Lane is rerouted.

Trustees awarded a $2.5 million contract to lay the new Hackberry Lane to Gilco Contracting of Tuscaloosa.

Hackberry Lane currently runs in a straight line on the eastern side of Shelby Hall and H.M. Comer Hall and continues through Campus Drive to University Boulevard.

With the change, Hackberry Lane will loop on the eastern side of Shelby and the recently approved science and engineering complex, skirting the edge of the UA and Bryce Hospital campuses.

The loop will continue past the new Campus Drive parking deck, replace Margaret Drive behind the biology building and rejoin the old Hackberry asphalt at Jones Hall.

The science and engineering complex is planned on top of Campus Drive, which will no longer exist between Devotie Drive and the current intersection with Hackberry Lane.

In all, the road realignment will cost $3 million, with $2.4 million covered by federal money.

The existing Hackberry Lane will remain, though without a name, and dead end at the intersection with Campus Drive, said Mike Lanier, spokesman for UA construction.

More buildings will eventually replace the segment as part of a planned expansion of the science and engineering complex, he said.

With development of the area comes a chance to upgrade the infrastructure, and trustees awarded Gilco the first phase of a $10 million project to improve drainage, sewer and water pipes.

The work will coincide with the road project.