April 09, 2012

University, cities spark Polytechnic campus construction boom

Posted: April 09, 2012

Building, solar, road and infrastructure projects under way across campus

Clean energy, smoother streets and outstanding student facilities await a Polytechnic campus community when work ends on a wave of current construction projects.

ASU, local governments and state agencies – SRP, Mesa, Gilbert, Maricopa County, and Arizona Division of Emergency Management – are in the midst of improvements to roads and utilities, as well as a solar power generation plant and new student buildings.

"The work going on now is helping transform what was once a World War II U.S. Air Force base into a modern university," said E.L. Cortez, executive director of facilities management at ASU Polytechnic.

ASU completed the second phase of an 800-kilowatt solar power generation plant in March 2012, and will begin supplying clean electricity to the campus in early April. An additional solar plant is anticipated to be complete before the end of 2012, generating up to an additional megawatt of electricity – enough energy to power 250 average homes.

Further highlighting ASU’s commitment to sustainable business practices is a new project to install energy monitoring equipment, which will provide facility managers and the public real-time data about electrical use across campus.

"These projects show we are living up to our pledge to build sustainable campuses," said Dave Brixen, associate vice president for facilities development and management. "We are advancing toward the goal of zero carbon emissions."

Work also is progressing on a city of Mesa-sponsored project to enhance Polytechnic’s roads. The $10.5 million Polytechnic Ring Road project will replace and widen the main road circling the campus, and also will provide new water and sewer lines, and street lighting. The project will improve campus traffic distribution, and will add turn lanes, signage, drainage, street lighting, landscaping, and bike lanes. Work should be complete by July 2012.

"The City of Mesa is making a sizeable investment in this campus, which will allow our infrastructure to keep up with growth," Cortez said. "The new road will replace the deteriorating system of old U.S. Air Force roads that do not support ASU's renovation and expansion plans."

Those expansion plans include a 318-bed freshman residence hall and a 20,000 square-foot dining facility, which currently are under construction and are due to open at the beginning of the fall 2012 semester. A student-funded $25.59 million recreation and wellness facility will open in March of 2013.

"The growth going on at Polytechnic has been phenomenal," Brixen said. "ASU is making some very significant investments in campus infrastructure and student facilities."

Directly west of the campus, the university is preparing for the Power Road Realignment project. Sponsored by the City of Mesa, the Town of Gilbert and Maricopa County, the project will straighten Power Road, and ease traffic on a major thoroughfare into the Polytechnic campus. As the project progresses, ASU has partnered with the Chandler Gilbert Community College, House of Refuge, the Gila River Indian Community and the Airport Authority to coordinate and plan for impacts to the campus. In connection with the road realignment, SRP is moving electrical lines underground, further enhancing campus aesthetics.

The campus also celebrated the opening of two new centers in February. The Arizona Center for Algae Technology drew Gov. Jan Brewer and more than 100 community and business leaders to dedicate the lab, which is set on developing algae as an alternate fuel source. A day later, the Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially reopen the Alternate State Emergency Operations Center. The center is maintained at ASU in a state of readiness in the event ADEM needs to relocate to an alternate facility during a crisis.

When not being used by the ADEM, the center will be used for ASU classes and research.