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Here's a guide to construction to look out for as UNL students return for fall semester

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More than 50 construction projects are part of the university's effort to renew and replace aging buildings on its Lincoln campus.

Fall classes at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are scheduled to begin Monday, but the process of moving thousands of students back to campus is underway.

As usual, move-in is also taking place in the heart of Nebraska's construction season, with several projects on UNL's City Campus expected to interrupt traffic for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

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More than 50 construction projects are part of the effort to renew and replace aging facilities on the Lincoln campus. 

That means there will be several places students and their families will want to steer clear of at the state's flagship campus, said Brooke Hay, assistant vice president of the University of Nebraska's Facilities, Planning and Capital Programs.

"Basically any place behind a barricade or a fence," Hay said.

The number of projects should be encouraging to students returning to campus, Hay said, signaling continued support from the university, state government, as well as the city of Lincoln.

But, the university understands the temporary closures will be a source of frustration for some.

"We appreciate that construction, by its nature, is oftentimes inconvenient," Hay said, "so we try to be mindful that if we're going to close one spot, we need to have other ways for people to go."

Students were notified of construction areas ahead of their scheduled move-in date, and UNL Housing provided maps directing students of how to best navigate the streets on campus to get to their residence hall.

For those looking late for a guide (as well as those planning a trip to campus in the coming weeks when the Huskers take to the football field) here are the construction areas to look out for on City Campus:

Kiewit Hall

The steel frame of the UNL College of Engineering's new $97 million educational facility is rising above 17th and Vine streets.

Construction of the 181,500-square-foot Kiewit Hall vacated a portion of 17th Street, and required closing of the northernmost lane of the east-west-running Vine Street while the building continues taking shape.

The privately funded facility is expected to open in January 2024, meaning the lane restriction will continue throughout the 2022-23 school year.

Traffic closures will also vary on Vine Street between 17th Street on the east and 14th Street on the west as various projects continue.

16th Street

Around the corner from Kiewit Hall, on 16th Street, the ongoing expansion and renovation of the link between Nebraska Hall and the Scott Engineering Center will continue to impact the area as well.

The $75 million project, part of which has already opened, adds 87,000 square feet of new research space and instructional laboratories, as well as offices for faculty.

Most of the project is being funded through university and state funds as part of a deferred maintenance program enacted in 2016, while $5.4 million came from private donations.

The sidewalk on the east side of 16th Street will be impacted.

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North Stadium expansion

Vine Street west of 14th Street — known as Memorial Mall — will continue to be a construction zone for much of the 2022-23 school year.

But for Husker fans, the activity is sure to draw some excitement.

At the far west end of Memorial Mall, construction on the $155 million North Stadium expansion will close the sidewalk in between Memorial Stadium and the NU Coliseum.

The facility, expected to open before the 2023 football season, will include a new strength-and-conditioning center, locker room, offices and dining facility for student-athletes that opens up onto City Campus.

Veterans Tribute

To the east of the stadium expansion project, also on Memorial Mall, work is wrapping up on the installation of a Veterans Tribute.

The $3.75 million project honoring Nebraska men and women who have served in the armed forces is situated just outside the Pershing Military and Naval Science Building.

The sidewalk in front of the building will be closed for now, but is expected to open in coming weeks as UNL prepares to unveil the privately funded monument to the public.

Piper Hall

Last used as a space for students with COVID-19 to quarantine, Piper Hall will come down in the coming weeks.

The demolition of the former Neihardt Complex wing named for Elsie Piper, a former dean of women, will also redirect traffic on campus, Hay said.

A sidewalk that is a popular east-west walkway on the south side of Piper Hall will soon close, forcing foot traffic farther north.

Once razed, the site will become a green space, with an option for future development.

Neihardt Hall, the former site of UNL's Honors Program, will be renovated to become a hub for various student service offices.

Hay said traffic patterns will continue shifting across campus as UNL continues to bring its facilities up to date this year.

"There is quite a bit of work going on, so things will continue to develop," she said. "Some spots will open up and others will close, so we'll try to keep those clearly marked."

Students, faculty and staff who frequent East Campus won't need to worry about any major construction projects, at least at the start of the school year.

Work to improve Legacy Plaza near the Dairy Store and Nebraska East Union with porches and green spaces will be ongoing through the fall, but the disruption is expected to be minimal.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or cdunker@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS

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Higher education/statehouse reporter

A native of Beatrice, Chris Dunker has reported on higher education, state government and other issues since joining the Journal Star in 2014.

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