By Caroline Page
The campus will not be its usual ghost town this winter break as construction workers and tree crews will haunt its grounds.
During the month-long winter break, the University campus will undergo three big tree transplant and pruning projects, and crews will continue various construction projects around campus, said UT spokeswoman Rhonda Weldon.
Tree pruning project
About half of the original 40 acres of UT’s campus will be pruned, said University forester Larry Maginnis. About seven crews will arrive the day after finals end and work on a $100,000 tree pruning project.
Maginnis said this project is “his baby.” Every tree in the area between Inner Campus Drive and 21st Street, and Guadalupe and Speedway will be removed of dead limbs.
Some of the trees in that area were planted in the 1930s, and the area by the Littlefield Fountain and the South Mall is very historic, so Maginnis said he wanted to have the biggest impact he could with his budget, and this worked out perfectly.
“The University will be a prettier place because of it,” he said.
The last time this area’s trees were pruned was in 1981 and the industry standard is every six years, so the University is way behind, Maginnis said.
Each of the 4,817 trees that will be pruned, he said. The project will be finished the day before students return for spring classes.
AT&T Executive Education & Conference
The construction of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, which is targeted for a summer 2009 completion, will continue over the break. For this project, there are some pecan trees on the University Avenue median that will be taken out, UT Director of Campus Planning David Rea said.
The goal is to return the University Avenue median strip back to what it was originally Â- full of shrub landscape with an unobstructed view of the South Mall and UT Tower, Maginnis said.
The pecan trees that will be rooted out of the ground were planted unintentionally, he said, and the benefit of taking them out will outweigh the negative of getting rid of trees.
Additionally, some of the trees that were saved during the football stadium expansion will be relocated to the conference center, Rea said. The trees, which are upwards of 50-feet tall and 140 pounds per piece, will be delivered during the middle of the night because Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. will have to be blocked off and the street lights will be taken down.
The new conference center will be a gateway building and the renovated median will be an entrance to campus from Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Rea said.
“The Kappa Kappa Gamma and Alpha Phi houses are located on University Avenue by the construction, which has been a bit of a burden, but hopefully it will be worth it when they are finished,” said Kelly Parma, business honors senior and president of Kappa Kappa Gamma. “A lot of us park in Dobie and they have blocked off the road that leads to the parking garage, so we have to go around and that has been a huge pain.”
Experimental Science Building
The University’s Experimental Science Building has been condemned and will be torn down in the spring, but three large trees by the building are going to taken out of the ground and transplanted elsewhere, Maginnis said.
Often, trees are lost because of construction of a new building, but the University is practicing preservation at all cost, he said.
This project will have no affect on students, except that trees will be placed somewhere that trees did not exist before, which can surprise people, Maginnis said.
The building renovation effect eight trees and rather than mow them down, they were assessed and based on their condition, three were viable candidates for transplant, he said.
Cesar Chavez Statue
The goal is to complete the statue over the holidays while students are away and have it finished when they come back, said Bill Throop, director of Project Management and Construction Services.
“It was supposed to be done already, but there was some problems with the stone,” he said. “Some of the stone they had ordered needed to be reworked so the plaques could be mounted properly and that’s just taken longer than we had hoped.”
Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and Disch-Falk Field
The north end of the football stadium will continue to be worked on over the break and will look similar to the way it does now when students come back in January, said Senior Associate Athletic Director Nick Voinis. There is not a lot of news with the stadium and nothing special will happen during the break.
Disch-Falk Field will also be under construction and the target is to finish it before the baseball season opens in late January, he said.