As part of an ongoing plan to modernize the campus’ public works infrastructure, construction crews have begun to rip up portions of the walkway stretching between the Lagoon and Campbell Hall — a project that will take several years to complete in entirety.

The first phase of the campus Infrastructure Renewal Project began Tuesday with work on the first two segments of the project, the Library Mall Corridor adjacent to Davidson Library and the south side of campus near San Nicolas Hall. This first installment of the infrastructure project is projected to take crews until Oct. 7 to complete a new storm drain pipeline, during which time some of Channel Islands road will be closed to pedestrian and motor traffic.

[media-credit name=”Courtesy of Campus Design and Facilities” align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]

Improvements are already underway and will forge north to Campbell Hall by July. Construction is expected to impede pedestrian traffic.

The infrastructure renewal will include a revamping of the university’s utility lines, sanitary sewer lift stations, electric transmission facilities, storm drains, roadways and parking lots in future years, according to a prepared report.

“The campus utilities network will continue to be expanded to accommodate growing enrollments and evolving academic programs,” the release said. “Existing water, storm drainage, and com­munications lines will be extended in conjunction with expanded roadway, bicycle and pedestrian routes to serve new development.”

During the present closure of Channel Islands Road, automobile access to the UCen will remain open via UCen Road — parking lots five and six will be used as turnarounds.

Frank Castanha, a university representative from Design and Construction Services, said plans for the library corridor include new landscaping, hardscaping and lighting. Deep trenches will be dug near San Nic to accommodate new pipelines and native plant restoration will take place located on the lagoon bluff as a preventative measure against harmful stormwater runoff.

From its initial point of construction, Castanha said the storm drain overhaul will veer north until it reaches Campbell Hall. This process is projected to be concluded in July 2011.

“[The] student path of travel will be impacted as we work from the lagoon up through the Library Corridor to Campbell Hall in small linear increments,” Castanha said in an e-mail. “The project will fence off approximately 150 feet … Pedestrians will be detoured around the construction areas.”

Moreover, Castanha said the landscaping between the lagoon and San Nic is meant to ensure ecological diversity.

“[It] is an interesting project within the project at the lagoon,” he said in an e-mail. “We have been working with the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration for the grading and native plant restoration of that area.” Ashley Parrella, a first-year psychology major, said the construction will be a nuisance for students unfamiliar with their new surroundings.

“It’s definitely an eyesore and distracting and you can definitely smell it,” Parrella said. “It’s going to cause a bunch of confusion, especially for the first years because they are doing it at the beginning of the year.”

Castanha said infrastructure improvements are needed to fulfill the university’s Long Range Development Plan — which aims to add an additional 5,000 undergraduates to the student body by 2025.

Phase 1 is projected to finish during the summer of 2013, pending state funding.