Oct 032005
Authors: Lee Newville

After 15 years of gathering funds, the second phase of a 20-year renovation plan for the Lory Student Center and the CSU Transit Center begins this month.

Although the LSC's future alternations haven't completely been formulated, the second phase of the current plan is ready to begin construction.

The collaborative effort between CSU, Fort Collins and Transfort has already undergone "phase one" and "phase one-A." These consist of the outside waiting area for the buses and the parking area around the weather station.

"Phase two" is a large-scale rebuilding of the north end of the LSC. It entails an indoor waiting area, transit center offices, a RamRide office, convenience store, a new office for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and a meeting room for general use.

"Phase two is really the largest and will have the most significant impact on the Lory Student Center itself," said LSC Executive Director Mike Ellis . "The intent is that it's a seamless connection to the student center."

The project will consist of 14,458 square feet of new infrastructure and 7,749 square feet of renovated space. Construction begins Oct. 10 and continues through July, totaling 270 days of construction.

"It's a huge project and there are a lot of different aspects to it that are really exciting," said Kris Folsom, LSC marketing director.

The new center will include a waiting area to make public transportation more comfortable. It will also host Cam's Lobby Shop, which will replace Cam's Corner Store.

"There's really no area for students to wait out there in the cold," Ellis said. "There'll be a notification system to notify when a bus is coming. It's really designed to support the use of public transportation."

Transfort manager Tom Frazier said the student center was selected as the destination for the city's new transit center because of its desirable location.

"The Lory Student Center was chosen by a group of individuals at the university and the city," Frazier said. "There are a large number of students that pass by or go straight to the student center, so it was a prime location."

One part of the renovation is replacing the stairs between the LSC and the Engineering building.

"Right now it's a dreary entrance to the student center," Ellis said. "We know from our data that approximately 20,000 students a day walk up and down those stairs and use that space out there, and the number that use the doors on the student level is about 600. Obviously, its existing condition is not very inviting."

Reconstructing the stairs, however, creates the problem of blocking access for those who rely on the steps to get to campus.

"Those people that use those (stairs) are going to have to find alternative access," Ellis said. "There's no easy way to do that."

However, he said the team is working with Disabled Student Services to ensure students with disabilities will be able to maneuver through the construction and will post signs showing people how to navigate the area.

"If you can imagine this, at any time on the job there will be between six and 70 construction workers," Ellis said. "It will have an impact on access to the student center and Plaza and we acknowledge that and want to minimize the disruption as much as possible, but there's no question that there will be some inconvenience."

The idea for the new transit center was first conceived in the mid 90s.

A $9,172,119 grant awarded by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will fund the new transit center. The grant is distributed in small portions every year, hence the delay in the progress. The first grant was awarded in 1990.

"It took us until 2005 to get enough federal grant money in order to construct the center," said Frazier, who requested the grant before the FTA in 1990.

Because the project is funded by an outside source, spending is not as flexible.

"One of the things students have asked is why are we putting this money toward the facility and not increased bus routes." Ellis said. "The source of funding doesn't allow for that. It only allows for capital improvements."

One of the requirements of the grant was that 20 percent of the funding had to be matched by the city or university. CSU decided to lease out the land that will host the transit center for 33 years, which provides the remaining $2,293,031.

"We will run the transit addition as if it were CSU's," Ellis said. "We will pay for utilities and upkeep and will keep revenues from Cam's Store to run that. It's really a win-win situation when it comes to the operation of the transit center."

One of the goals of the transit center is to decrease traffic around CSU and decrease the burden of having so many cars in a limited space.

"The transit center is a major step toward achieving Colorado State's goal of creating a pedestrian-oriented campus free of traffic congestion while also further integrating the use of mass transit into campus life and culture," said Anthony Frank, vice president for Research and Information Technology in a press release. "The facility will additionally serve city residents as a transfer and ticket center adjacent to major transportation corridors in Fort Collins."

Ellis also expressed his excitement over the new student center.

"I'm not aware of a collaboration between a city and a transit service that has been able to secure (more than) $8 million anywhere in the country," he said.

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