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Street near construction site to close May 10 as DCED nears completion

March 18, 2009 -- Vehicle traffic currently using University Loop West on the Arkansas State University campus will soon have to use alternate routes to get to university grounds when the street closes May 10, the day after ASU’s spring commencement.

The closing is related to the upcoming completion of the Delta Center for Economic Development (DCED). The DCED, located south of the College of Business Building and across the street from the Health, Physical Education and Sports Sciences (HPESS) building, is set for completion this summer.

Phase 1 of construction of an overpass, which will eventually lead to the closure of University Loop West as a through street, began in February. The large parking lot south of the Dean B. Ellis Library will continue to be accessible from the northwest and southeast entrances.



“We are extremely excited about the opportunities the new Delta Center for Economic Development will attract upon its completion,” said Dr. Len Frey, dean of ASU’s College of Business. “The presence of this new facility brings the activities of the Delta Center and other College of Business outreach programs, which are presently spread across multiple locations, together on campus.

“It is important to bring faculty, students, and economic development leaders together in one location. Doing so will enhance the quality of business education and facilitate economic development. This building will be the economic showplace of northeast Arkansas,” concluded Dr. Frey.

Dr. Frey said the new building will feature offices, multiple conference rooms, and additional classrooms for undergraduate and graduate students. MBA and other graduate business courses will be taught in the building during afternoon and evening hours.

“The street closing is a part of the master plan that will eventually result in creating a safer campus at Arkansas State University,” said vice chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Rick Stripling. “Work to tie the plan together is currently underway.”

The closing of the street will impact some parking situations in the area around the College of Business, the Administration Building and along Cooley Drive (between the College of Business building and the library). Although some parking spots may be temporarily lost, permanent spots will be added to the west side of the straight stretch of street directly in front of the HPESS building. Angled spots were added to the east side last summer.

Dr. Stripling said the closing of the short stretch of University Loop West fulfils four objectives:

         Closing the winding drive next to the Delta Center construction eliminates a safety hazard for student pedestrians and drivers,

         Closing the street is necessary to complete the parking area around the Delta Center,

         The action is the next step in ASU’s goal of making the campus pedestrian friendly and eliminating through traffic, and,

         The closing is inevitable because of the construction of the overpass.

 

The Delta Center for Economic Development is expected to be dedicated in late summer. The center offers assistance in the areas of regional and community economic development, professional and workforce training, and small business assistance programs in conjunction with the College of Business and the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC).

The new Delta Center, funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) with additional funding from the higher education bond issue passed Nov. 7, 2006, brings the total project amount to $6.6 million. The DCED staff develops outreach programs which serve businesses, governments and the citizens of Arkansas.

ASU construction manager Terry Carty indicated that Phase 1 of the construction plan, which began in February, is expected to be completed by December 2010. Completion of the two-phase project, including the overpass, is tabbed for completion in 2011.
           

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