This April 2020 photo shows the completed pedestrian pathway connector between Newland Hall, left, and Wey Hall, right. It connects the new parking deck to the existing parking circle in front of the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. Click on the image for a full view. Photo by Marie Freeman
A pedestrian pathway connector, Blue Ridge Way was one of several major construction projects completed recently at Appalachian State University to enhance the Appalachian Experience.
The project supports the strategic plan of Appalachian and the university’s goals and metrics associated with the University of North Carolina System’s strategic plan. It will benefit students, athletics and the community.
Blue Ridge Way is the first part of a pedestrian pathway that will unite the two halves of Appalachian’s campus, as referenced in the Master Plan 2025 (page 41), while connecting the arts, transportation and university events.
Blue Ridge Way was completed in time for the Aug. 31, 2019, football game and connects the new Stadium Parking Deck adjacent to Frank and Belk residence halls to the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts and Wey Hall. This connector primarily serves as a wide pedestrian path. During events with large attendance — such as football games, concerts and events in the new north end zone facility — it offers improved emergency vehicle access and is used for an additional vehicle exit from the parking deck and stadium areas.
On Jan. 24, 2019, the UNC Board of Governors approved expenditures of up to $916,866 from existing budgets to plan and implement Blue Ridge Way. Construction was complete in time for the 2019 football season. The contractor was Greene Construction of Boone.
Blue Ridge Way was made to match the sidewalks around Sanford Mall, built with pavers laid in a concrete foundation. Weep holes in the concrete allow water penetration to nearby tree roots. Construction activity was excluded from an established tree protection zone around one of Appalachian's oldest campus trees.
How is it funded?
The funding source for the Blue Ridge Way pedestrian pathway connector was the university’s Transportation and Parking Reserves fund.
Who will benefit?
All members of the campus and local communities benefit. Since late August 2019, pedestrians and motorists attending football games and other activities at Kidd Brewer Stadium, as well as large concerts at the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts, have experienced faster egress, better traffic flow and increased safety.
How does it support UNC System Goals and Metrics?
The safety, health, wellness and enjoyment of all members of the Appalachian Community, including visitors, are of utmost concern to the university, as each makes possible personal, academic and institutional success.
Major current projects:
- Conservatory for Biodiversity Education and Research
- Appalachian 105
- Residence halls
- Kidd Brewer Stadium — North End Zone
- Child Development Center Expansion
- Sanford Hall
- Arts Corridor
- Wey Hall
- Boone Creek Daylighting
Capital projects at Appalachian continue, as Gov. Roy Cooper’s March 27, 2020, stay-at-home order considers construction, specifically for housing and on government property, as an essential business activity. For employee safety, contractors are taking protective measures against the coronavirus.
Construction at App State continues because:
• Discontinuing projects would severely impact project costs to the state, requiring more money to re-start an abandoned project and increasing the risk of material delays and some subcontractors going out of business.
• The new residence halls being built under a public-private partnership constitute a ground lease, whereby a private developer has created a timeline and is managing the construction privately. The financial feasibility of the project is based on a specific timeline tied to the academic year.
• In other construction on campus, bond money was approved by Appalachian’s Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian has a fiduciary responsibility to execute construction in the shortest time possible. And, much like a homeowner building a new home with a construction loan, the university is already making payments on the project.
An aerial view of areas receiving millennial campus designation at Appalachian State University. Video by Marie Freeman