Four major construction projects have been in various stages of development this summer at Fort Hays State University. The first -- an extension of Dwight Drive -- reached official completion today, and it signifies not only a new physical path through the campus but a link from the past to the future.
Dwight Drive previously began at Elm Street and dead-ended on the west at the Wooster Place housing complex. Now it continues to curve northwest around the levee along Big Creek and connects with Gustad Drive, the road that goes from the main campus to Gross Memorial Coliseum.
"The extension of Dwight Drive creates much more convenient travel through campus," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said during an official opening ceremony today on the new road. "But it also does two other things. It marks the completion of our old master plan and the transition to a new plan for the future. And, the extension of Dwight Drive will provide access to a new academic building, the Center for Networked Learning."
He said the total project cost for the road, which was built by Apac-Kansas Inc. of Hays, was about $500,000, which included $420,000 for construction, $50,000 for design and some miscellaneous costs.
"This new road has been part of the master plan since 1969," the president said. "Gustad Drive did not even exist at that time. One version of the master plan had Dwight Drive continuing north, past Stroup Hall and my house, all the way to North Campus Drive. Another version of the master plan had it turning east just past my house and terminating at the Memorial Union."
FHSU has hired the Kansas City, Mo., office of Gould Evans Affiliates to develop a new master plan. "We are still defining the scope of their services," he said. "They will begin inspecting the campus and gathering information. They will meet with various constituent groups on campus and in the community. That will take months. The new master plan is due a year from now and must finally be approved by the Kansas Board of Regents."
When completed, he said, the transition from the old master plan to the new master plan will provide guidance on such future considerations as the need for new buildings and parking lots, the possible removal of old buildings, and land use of areas such as the alfalfa field west of the Robbins Center.
President Hammond also gave a status report on the Center for Networked Learning, which has been announced previously. "That project is approaching the design development phase, and we hope to have plans ready for bid letting by this December," he said. "The building will be about 37,150 square feet, including 1,400 square feet of 'shell space' for future growth, and the construction cost will be about $11.2 million."
It will house the Virtual College, the Center for Teaching Excellence and Learning Technology, the Department of Informatics, the radio and TV studios, and laboratories for the new information systems engineering program.
The projected completion date of the Center for Networked Learning is summer of 2014, in time for the start of the 2014-2015 academic year.
The road and the new academic building are two of four projects that represent a total university investment of about $30 million, with an estimated economic impact of about $45 million. A groundbreaking ceremony was conducted on June 19 for the Schmidt/Bickle Indoor Training Facility, scheduled to open in a year, and the first phase of the Tiger Place residential facility on the site of the former Agnew Hall will open soon, with the second phase also scheduled for completion next summer.
"While the nation has struggled, we have enjoyed three years busier than we've ever been," President Hammond said. "We've been blessed to be very busy in a tough economy."