With its eye on a potential entertainment district abutting Jack Trice Stadium — and in hopes of alleviating perilous safety concerns for Cyclone fans — Iowa State University wants to erect a new gateway bridge and elevated walkway connected to the stadium concourse in Ames.
“Not only would it create a safer pedestrian route between the stadium and parking, but would enhance entry into the ISU campus,” according to a pitch going before the state Board of Regents this week.
The project, billed as a “new gateway to Iowa State University,” would cost from $8 million to $12 million and be funded by ISU Athletics Department operating revenue and private giving, according to an ISU request for permission to proceed with project planning.
Regents will consider the ISU request during their meeting Wednesday. If they give the go-ahead, Iowa State will build the bridge during the summers of 2021 and 2022, “thereby not impacting the need to use that area for parking during the school year,” according to Steve Malchow, ISU senior associate athletics director.
The ISU athletics department is aiming to complete the bridge by August 2022 — just in time for the start of that fall’s football season.
“One of the important reasons for the bridge is to improve the safety of fans crossing the road to and from parking lots,” Malchow said Friday in an email to The Gazette.
The bridge — which will cross over South University Boulevard, east of Jack Trice Stadium — “will significantly change the use of the grass parking lots and most likely will change how many pedestrians coming from the eastern parking lots access the stadium,” Malchow said.
The project will include an elevated walkway that will connect the bridge to the stadium’s east concourse. And — by shifting game day parking — current lots between Hilton Coliseum and Jack Trice Stadium could be used “in a different fashion,” Malchow said in response to a question about whether this proposal is associated with a recent ISU investigation of a larger entertainment district in the area.
ISU Athletics Director Jamie Pollard in September debuted his vision for a multiuse, cultural and entertainment district in that space and announced a monthslong, $300,000 market feasibility study — which Malchow on Friday said has not been completed.
The plan though, as Pollard described it, would explore relocating commuter and football game day parking to a new paved parking area with a pedestrian bridge over University Boulevard, connected to the stadium.
Malchow said freeing current parking lots could “generate much-needed revenues that the university can use to address long overdue deferred maintenance.”
In pitching the safety aspects of a new bridge, Iowa State reported the four-lane South University Boulevard has a 45 mph speed limit with two pedestrian crossing points that are “widely separated by one-third of a mile.”
“A large number of football fans cross this busy road, raising safety concerns and competing with game day traffic,” according to the board proposal.
If regents approve the project, it will add to an array of athletics-related projects on the ISU campus, including a $90 million sports performance center connected to the Bergstrom Football Complex and a $25 million renovation in Hilton Coliseum.
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