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Physical Master Plan shows future construction proposals for Rutgers campus

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Promenade down the Raritan River boardwalk. Jog across the biker and pedestrian footbridge connecting Livingston campus to the College Avenue campus. Enjoy meals at a replacement for the Brower Commons dining hall.

In the next 15 to 20 years, students will be enjoying these activities and more on the transformed campus, said Richard Edwards, chancellor of Rutgers–New Brunswick, referring to the University’s Physical Master Plan.

The plan, which was unveiled last week at Winants Hall to Board of Governors members, includes proposals for a new student center, a boardwalk along the Raritan River and a footbridge for pedestrians and bikers.

“That pedestrian bridge would give a more direct way for people to get back and forth between the campuses, which currently is virtually impossible,” Edwards said.

Rutgers spent more than $2 million to hire a consulting firm that has been working on the plan for the past 18 months, said Antonio Calcado, vice president of Facilities and Capital Planning.

Consultants visited the New Brunswick campus to meet with students, faculty and staff, Edwards said. The firm held open town hall meetings, conducted student surveys and created an interactive map that tracked the flow of student traffic throughout the day.

Edwards said the University hopes to use that data to improve classroom scheduling and enhance utilization of the buses.

The first phase of the plan involves consolidating financial aid, registrar, admissions and residence life into a “Student Services” building on Busch campus. This will allow the “old and decrepit” Records Hall to be torn down and replaced with a new dining facility, Edwards said.

After the new dining hall is built, Brower Commons will be knocked down and replaced with a new student center, he said. These changes to the “heart of the campus” will be some of the first to take place within the next five years.

“We can’t take down Brower [Commons], which is very outdated, because we are serving thousands of meals a day there,” Edwards said.

Another major piece of the plan is developing transportation hubs, he said. George Street would become a one-way southbound bus lane and Neilson Street would become a generally one-way northbound route.

Among the other changes proposed in the plan are faculty housing on Cook campus, high-tech research parks built on the Livingston and Busch campuses and a bus and bike lane connecting the two.

The most challenging task in bringing these plans to fruition will be financing the boardwalk, transportation hubs and foot bridge, Edwards said. Dining facilities and housing, on the other hand, can be financed with “revenue bonds.”

Revenue bonds finance projects that generate university income, he said.

“You can borrow money [for new housing and dining facilities], but the money comes in because students are paying for dining and housing,” Edwards said. “... [those projects] don’t require you to go out and raise money.”

Rutgers will be exploring a variety of public and private partnerships and collaborations with New Brunswick, Edwards said. Federal money is also a possibility for funding transportation changes.

“It’s hard to raise private money to knock down a building,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine someone donating money to have their name on a sign that says ‘We paid to have this knocked down.’”

The plan has been presented in a PowerPoint presentation, which has slides showing artist renderings of the proposals, Edwards said. In the future, he hopes to have the plan presented at a Rutgers University Student Assembly meeting so more students can see the University’s future.

Trevor MacCormack, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he is excited for the changes in the University, but disappointed he will graduate before seeing any changes.

“I think it is great there’s going to be so many new additions on campus, and I’d be really excited to see Brower replaced,” he said. “It’s too bad I’ll [have] graduated by then, though.”

But Calcado and Edwards agree that the proposals will still impact alumni. The changes will increase the value of a Rutgers degree, Edwards said.

“Anytime we can improve the University, academically or physically, it is a source of pride for students,” Calcado said. “Even when you leave and become an alumni, it is still your university.”

Avalon Zoppo is a Rutgers Business School first-year student majoring in pre-business. She is an Acting Associate News Editor of The Daily Targum. Follow @AvalonZoppo for more stories.

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