Doug Collins remembers when a local grocery store occupied the piece of campus where Rocket Hall now stands.
“Back then, it was a simple rectangular lot where there wasn’t a whole lot of heavy traffic,” said the director of facilities and grounds services.
This spring, the corner of Main Campus near Secor Road and Dorr Street again will see transformation as lot 25, the major parking area for Rocket Hall and the Gateway Project, undergoes numerous improvements.
The lot will be closed from May 7 through early August to complete the following:
• Lot 25 parking area restructuring/repaving;
• Pedestrian walkway from Gateway businesses to residence halls on West Rocket Drive (Ottawa House and the Crossings);
• Numerous landscaped, curbed islands;
• Raised concrete crosswalk and drop-off entrance to Rocket Hall;
• LED parking lights; and
• UT transit stop at the Gateway Project.
Although the lot directly in front of Rocket Hall will not reopen until early August, Collins said a section close to the Gateway Project will be completed by July 9, in conjunction with the estimated openings of several businesses, including Barnes & Noble Bookstore and Gradkowski’s Sports Grille.
A special, right-turn only entrance from Secor Road into the Gateway area will be constructed as well, although most will continue to enter the Rocket Hall area using the existing entrance marked with a traffic signal off Secor Road.
“We’re taking this area from its original, 1950s shopping center format and transforming it into a more flexible, interactive area for the UT community,” Collins said, noting that the Secor Road entrance into Rocket Hall also will be reconfigured for greater driver and pedestrian safety. “I understand it’ll be a hardship for some who will have to park further from their buildings. But once the new area is completed, it’ll be a better environment for drivers, pedestrians and visitors.”
The goal, he added, is to finish all enhancements before students return in mid-August.
Alternate parking for those who normally use lot 25 has been established in the following areas:
• Visitors to Rocket Hall and handicapped parking — lot 27A near Ottawa House; and
• Staff and students — lot 26 near the Student Medical Center.
Along with aesthetic improvements, Collins said the $1.9 million project will add 178 parking spaces near University Parks Trail and the area south of Rocket Hall.
Handicapped parking and crosswalks also will be compliant with Americans With Disabilities Act standards.
“By mid-August, we’ll accomplish a few important goals with this project,” Collins said. “The safety of pedestrians and drivers will be enhanced, and the Rocket Hall area will be more attractive and accessible to everyone in the UT and greater Toledo communities.”