In the heart of the Texas State University campus, barricades have gone up on North LBJ Drive and Edward Gary Street, marking the start of the long-awaited Bobcat Trail redevelopment project.
The final phase of the 2006-2015 Campus Master Plan, the Bobcat Trail project will convert the current street into a landscaped pedestrian mall featuring native trees, grass, shrubbery and paving stone pathways. It is part of the university’s "gray-to-green" initiative that has seen other areas of campus transformed from building space to grassy parks and sidewalks.
"It is truly helping us to move to a pedestrian-oriented university campus," said Michael Petty, director of facilities planning, design and construction. "That alone is so exciting that we can instill that sense of campus life with the freshmen.
“It will be a free, open space where students can mingle, go outside and eat, and form study groups," he said. "I can remember when I was in school here in 1969, there were 'meet–and-greet' dances where they would close Bobcat Trail right in front of Commons for students to have a dance and a party."
Cost for the Bobcat Trail project is $5.48 million with an additional $6.3 million for utilities. The project architect is TGB Partners, with construction by Flynn Construction.
Renovations will include areas along North LBJ and Edward Gary Streets as they intersect with Bobcat Trail. Traffic will be limited to emergency vehicles, special deliveries and pick up for the recycling facilities. The planned increase in tree cover will provide more shade for pedestrians and a reduction in the "heat island" effect created by the impervious cover currently in place.
Grass and trees replacing asphalt and concrete may be a striking visual change, but the most extensive improvements will happen out of sight. The university will use the redevelopment to replace and upgrade aging utility lines and infrastructure that are nearing the end of their usable life. The work will also fully connect the university with the City of San Marcos' "purple pipe" water reclamation system, enhancing Texas State's leadership in conservation and environmental stewardship. The entire project is expected to be completed by December 2015.
"One of the things that people will not see in Bobcat Trail mall is everything we are going to be doing underground,” Petty said. "The first thing we are going to do is dig up the existing utilities and replace and upgrade them."
About the 2006-2015 Campus Master Plan
The Campus Master Plan was developed as a flexible blueprint to guide the growth of Texas State as a student-centered campus. Projects identified in the 10-year plan included the Performing Arts Center, the Undergraduate Academic Center, new residence halls, athletic facilities, parking garages as well as landscape and infrastructure improvements. The guiding principles shaping the development and improvements of the campus environment and facilities are:
• Identity - Unify the campus with appropriate entrances and borders to indicate arrival on campus.
• Community - Showcase the status of excellence while not sacrificing the carefully cultivated small campus atmosphere and enhance relationships with the San Marcos community.
• Natural Environment - Accentuate the unique physical characteristics of the campus and celebrate its natural beauty.
• Architecture - Achieve a cohesive architectural style.
• Mobility - Manage motorized and pedestrian traffic flow more effectively and safely in order to encourage and facilitate a walking and bicycle-friendly campus.