This summer, an ordinary construction project comes with an extraordinary end product. A potential landmark for the University of Kansas campus and city of Lawrence will result through an upgrade to enhance safety and convenience for hundreds of students living in Daisy Hill residence halls.
Construction will begin this summer to replace aging railings on the Irving Hill bridge, a major connection between KU’s central and west districts. Short railings will be replaced with taller, more attractive versions, sidewalks will be widened, concrete barriers will separate traffic and pedestrians, and new lighting and landscaping will be installed.
While improvements will be significant safety upgrade on their own, staff at KU Design and Construction Management (DCM) see the potential for something more eye-catching and representative of the KU community. So in addition to the improvements, the existing bridge girders will be painted official KU blue. The new railings, too, will be in KU blue. Across the north side of the new railings, “The University of Kansas” will be displayed in white lettering, while across the south side “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” will be displayed for all commuters and pedestrians to view.
“This is one of those unique opportunities, much like the reconstruction of Jayhawk Boulevard, to beautify our campus and create a landmark for the entire KU community while completing a much-needed upgrade to the campus infrastructure,” said Jim Modig, director of DCM and university architect. “The goal of the current KU Master Plan is to bring the Lawrence campus together as a single entity, and this project will provide a physical embodiment of that goal.”
DCM and KU Endowment are working together to identify donors for the project. Interested members of the KU community should contact Dale Slusser at KU Endowment, firstname.lastname@example.org or 785-832-7400.
The project will involve closing the Irving Hill bridge to traffic and intermittent lane closures on Iowa Street. The scheduled start date is May 18, with completion planned prior to July 31. “The construction on Daisy Hill shifted a sizable portion of student parking to lots near the Lied Center, and we heard from students who felt uncomfortable with the current bridge sidewalks and railings,” Modig said. “Looking at our options for upgrades, it became clear there was a real opportunity to enhance the existing bridge and really create a landmark that expresses the connection across campus districts and the united goals and purpose of the entire KU campus.”