University architect Steve Wiesenthal and UCPD chief Marlon Lynch responded to concerns about the accessibility and safety of the newly paved quads in town hall meetings held Wednesday and Thursday in Ida Noyes.
The renovation of the quads started over the summer and transformed the center of campus into a pedestrian zone - meaning that no car traffic is allowed after 7:30 a.m., except for emergencies and snow removal. Wiesenthal said the project has cost the University between $1 and $2 million.
Fourth-year Patricia Padurean, Inter-House committee residential life chair, said the main student criticism she heard is “how the new surface could deal with the snow.”
Wiesenthal replied that the University is equipped with special snowplows and shovels to remove the snow and ice without damaging the stone. He explained that limestone thaws easily and that the surrounding concrete will drain the excess water.
Another concern is that the pavement is still not accessible; the current American Disability Act requires that there be no more than a ¼-inch height difference between surfaces. Wiesenthal told the audience that the pavement will only be 1/8-inch from the ground.
“We are going well above the requirement, but we are not quite there yet,” he said.
The University is committed to upgrading access for the disabled by the end of the year, Wiesenthal added.
Lynch discussed exceptions to the new vehicle prohibition. He said emergency vehicles, emergency maintenance, snow removal, and UCPD will be allowed onto the quads.
Other vehicle services, for the injured, disabled, annual events, and ORSCA, will be allowed on the quads with a permit.
Wiesenthal said the project followed the same design and construction process as all new buildings on campus. Final phases of the renovation of campus include working with aldermen to increase the number of loading zones on campus, adding metal posts to quad entrances, and repaving Hull and Harper Courts. The final quad construction policies are projected to conclude next quarter.