And another one

An update on the Commons III construction

Commons III is in the rock-removal stage of construction and is scheduled to open for the fall 2017 semester, according to Alan Askew, vice president of Major Construction at Liberty University.

The new dorm will have two five-floor wings joined by a two-floor connector to form a U shape, according to Brad Butler, planning coordinator for the department.

CAMPUS ADDITION — A construction crew worked on the new dorm building. Photo credit: Jonathan husker

CAMPUS ADDITION — A construction crew worked on the new dorm building. Photo credit: Jonathan Husker

The short connector will allow Residential Commons II residents to still have a view of the mountains, Butler said.

“It’s going well,” Butler said. “We have a very, very tight schedule as usual. At Liberty that’s kind of the way we do things.”

The 784-bed dorm is on a 12-month construction schedule, whereas most construction projects take 18-24 months to complete, Askew noted.

The new commons will have two “retail spaces” which will occupy the bottom floor, according to Askew. There has been much discussion on what to put in them, but no decisions have been made, Butler said.

One of the challenges to constructing the new Residential Commons III has been the rock where the foundation will be, Askew said.

“One of the contractors … refers to the rock up on Liberty Mountain as ‘God’s rock,’ because no man can break it,” Butler said. “You have to have dynamite to fracture it, and it really has slowed us down. … It’s very, very unique to the construction process and particularly right here in Lynchburg. It’s the hardest rock around.”

Most of the blasting was done over the summer, and only a small amount remains, according to Askew.

“We do try to work around the students because we know that students live right next door, so we do try to minimize that and plan those around when it’s not a disturbance as best that we can,” Askew said.

Students should not experience traffic difficulties due to the construction, Askew noted. However, a busy construction site does require vehicles to enter and exit.

“There’s just a lot of traffic there with the construction traffic, and the normal traffic, and the foot traffic, and we’re going to have people there and they’ll flag them … to help you guys get across safely,” Butler said.

Students will be affected by the temporary closure of the Champion Circle sidewalk wrapping around the west side of the Residential Commons III construction site leading down to Liberty Lake, according to Askew.

“We had some safety issues with trucks leaving in and out,” Askew said. “We were worried about students walking right against the perimeter of the site if unnecessary.”

Askew said they plan to keep the fences around the site, so students should not experience disruption in their foot traffic.

“The kids have really been great to all the construction there,” Butler said. “You guys put up with a lot, and we understand that, and we appreciate it deeply.”

That segment of bluestone walkway currently being laid within the fence will be completed within the next few weeks, Askew said, but the last segment, which will connect the walkway to Champion Circle, will not be done until the completion of the Residential Commons III building.

Butler confirmed plans for a future Residential Commons IV, also mentioning the possibility of a multi-tiered lakeside dining hall which would attach on the back of it.

This dining hall would replace the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall and is part of the campus master plan, according to Butler.

“Whether it’s student activities or educational venues or dorm life, we’re really committed to the president’s challenge to build buildings that the students want to reside in and a college that provides the best learning environment,” Butler said.

Liberty’s planning and construction department has partnered with the Construction Management Association Inc., and are currently working together on Residential Commons III construction.

PORS is a news reporter.

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