New project to create prominent entrance at UNK

KEARNEY, Neb. (KSNB) - The University of Nebraska at Kearney looks to create a more distinct destination point on campus with a new project on the university's east side.

A new project around Warner Hall will create a more prominent entrance at UNK.

Phase two of the "East Gateway" project started Monday. Most of the construction is in the area around Warner Hall.

There'll be new columns, an entry sign on the southeast corner, similar to the one on the southwest side of campus, medians for better traffic flow and a new drop off point.

"Right now we don't have that formal look that opens up the east side of campus. So that it's more of a grander vista looking into campus as you approach from the east," said Alan Wedige, an architect with the University of Nebraska System.

UNK awarded the project to Morten Construction of Kearney for $946,431. The project was approved in May 2017 before the university-wide budget cuts.

The school worked with the city and Nebraska Department of Transportation on the project plans and design. Crews with the NDOT are currently working on a safety enhancement project on 25th Street that runs right along campus. Once they're done, you'll no longer be able to turn east onto Highway 30 off of 9th Avenue.

That ties into another goal for the project, which is to better the pedestrian and driver experience.

"Currently we have a lot of on street parking in some of those areas that creates some blind spots for some of the drivers. With the measures we put in place, it should, and we hope, be able to calm the speeds," Wedige said.

The historic columns outside of Warner Hall will be removed. The university said they'll preserve the bases and capitals to display somewhere else on campus.

Lee McQueen, facilities director at UNK, said they're expecting the project to wrap up mid-August. He said it's an aggressive goal, but they want to finish it before students return for fall semester.