New Road Opens for Storrs Campus

The new road connecting Route 44 to the Storrs Campus is now open. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
The new road connecting Route 44 to the Storrs Campus is now open. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

SHARELINES

This post was updated on Jan. 12 to reflect the new name for the road: Discovery Drive.

Discovery Drive will provide access to Tech Park and reduce traffic congestion. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Discovery Drive will provide access to Tech Park and reduce traffic congestion. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

When members of the UConn community return to Storrs at the end of their winter break, they’ll have a new way to arrive on campus.

A 3,400-foot extension connecting North Hillside Road to Route 44 is now open, providing access to the site of the in-progress UConn Technology Park and easing traffic congestion on Route 195.

Although Discovery Drive is now open to traffic, the anticipated completion of the project, which includes landscaping, lights, and other features, isn’t until September 2016. Most of that work should be completed by the spring of 2016, however.

Approved by the Board of Trustees in August 2014, the extension will include a two-lane road, bike lane, and sidewalk, along with utilities for the UConn Tech Park, including water, sewer, telecommunications, gas, and electricity.

Large culverts under the bridges along Discovery Drive are designed to allow wildlife to pass under the new road. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
Large culverts under the bridges along Discovery Drive are designed to allow wildlife to pass under the new road. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The plan for a connection from campus to Route 44 actually dates back at least 20 years, according to Brian Gore, director of project and program management at UConn. With only one “main road” – Route 195 – providing access to the Storrs campus, previous planners and administrators at the University sought a way to reduce traffic congestion, particularly noticeable during major events like concerts, basketball games, commencement, and move-in days.

That plan could no longer be deferred once the Tech Park was approved for the growing Storrs campus. Construction began on the Innovation Partnership Building, the first facility in the Tech Park, in June 2015, and the project, which will house state-of-the-art labs and specialized equipment for researchers and industry partners, is scheduled to be completed in May 2017.

Along with access to the Tech Park, Discovery Drive will also provide a new way for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to reach the heart of the campus, including the North Garage, which should help with the flow of event traffic.

The Board of Trustees approved a budget of $20.3 million for the project, although the latest construction update indicates it may cost slightly less than that. Of the amount budgeted, $5.8 million comes from the federal government, $8.2 million from UConn 2000 Phase III funding, and the rest from the state bond that was issued to create the Tech Park.