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UT students maneuver through class and construction | News

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UT students maneuver through class and construction
News, Schools
UT students maneuver through class and construction

Students heading back to class on the Knoxville campus of the University of Tennessee not only spent Wednesday making their way to their first classes, but they also maneuvered through plenty of construction.

"It's definitely been the most it's been ever since I was a freshman, for sure, and, I mean, it's everywhere, it's not just one local spot, it's literally everywhere," said Megan Larsen, a senior at UT.

She spent Wednesday in front of the gaping hole that was the University Center parking garage.

It's been demolished to make room for the new Student Union on campus, the largest project ever on campus.

"It's right in the core of the campus, $160 million project, there's no way to get around it," said Jeff Maples, senior associate vice chancellor for finance and administration. "If you're on campus, you will have to deal with that construction project for the next four years."

Larsen and her fellow classmate, Shannon Drew, both said parking was the biggest concern on campus.

But Maples points out that, with the leasing of the city lot adjacent to the Min Kao building and the Church Street United Methodist Church lot, the university actually saw a net gain of parking spaces this year, even though they are on the outskirts of campus.

"It is a rough time, but you've got to look at what the results will be, which will be beautiful building for students, alums, and faculty and staff as well," he said.

Maples calls the Student Union project one of the five major projects on campus right now. Right behind it is the new dorm going up on Andy Holt Avenue, the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, John Tickle Engineering Building and Lawson Athletic Center Addition.

"Total, I would guess somewhere close to $600 million of projects either under construction or in the planning stages at this point, so that's a lot to juggle between our facilities planning, facilities service department in trying to handle all that and continue to serve our students on a daily basis," Maples said.

That's why there are plenty of signs featuring Smokey in a hard hat posted around campus. Information also is online as part of the Cone Zone.

"I guess it can be kind of inconvenient, tough to walk around the fences and what not, but it's for the greater good, I guess, so we can suck it up for a little while," said William Davidson, a UT senior.

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