SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri State University is working to make getting to class easier and safer. MSU plans to add a ramp and an elevator to its underpass on Grand Street. Matt Morris, vice president for MSU’s administrative services, shared details with OzarksFirst.
“It’s been on our deferred maintenance list for quite some time,” Morris said. “It’s a 40-year-old structure. It’s been on the list. Frankly there have just been higher priorities with limited funding. So when Governor [Parson] did release funds, that was a game changer for us.”
Morris says this is a project worth $3.8 million. 80 percent of the funding comes from the federal budget stabilization fund, which Governor Mike Parson gave to MSU for deferred maintenance projects. The rest of the money comes from the University.
“This allows us to bring the [underpass] up to current standards,” Morris said. “Right now the ceiling level is fairly low, so it gives you kind of a compressed feel. It will be widened.”
MSU wants to make a more accessible walkway from its parking lots south of Grand to campus. When the project is finished there will be stairs and a ramp going down into the tunnel.
“It will make sure we’ve got access for all,” Morris said. “It provides options. Take the stairs, take the elevator. It’s the individual’s choice.”
An elevator will be on the side of campus, but not the parking lot.
“Really, we have more real estate on that side, so we can make the ramp,” Morris said. “Elevators are a piece of equipment that can fail at times. We want to make sure to minimize the number of elevators there.”
Construction will begin this month. The City of Springfield says this won’t disrupt traffic too much, but there will be occasional lane closures. Morris says there will be a temporary crosswalk on Grand Street as well.
When the tunnel is expanded, Morris says it will be a lot safer for visitors.
“From a lighting standpoint, camera standpoint, accessibility standpoint all brought up to current standards,” Morris said. “With it being a 40-year-old structure, it does not meet present-day codes. It’s going to serve faculty, students, staff and the community in a meaningful way.”
With a ramp extending into the parking lots, he says it potentially could allow MSU to reorganize its parking lots to the south of Grand. But, more funding would be needed.
“This also dubs in nicely with [MSU’s] John Goodman Amphitheatre project that we’re working on right now over to the north of Craig Hall,” Morris said. “It will help us kick off that 60th season of Tent Theatre as well.”
Morris says he expects this project to be finished by Summer 2022.