The college expects to begin the first phase of construction on the sidewalk expansion project in the next few weeks, pending city approval.
The concept, approved by the city, details an expansion of the Boylston Street sidewalk that runs from the Little Building to the M. Steinert & Sons Pianos Building. A crosswalk will be added in front of the 2 Boylston Alley that will connect to the Boston Common.
Director of Construction Management Michael Faia said in an interview with the Beacon that he expects the project to be completed by September 2020. Former Senior Associate Vice President for Real Estate Arthur Mombourquette expected construction to begin last spring, according to previous Beacon reporting.
Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services Duncan Pollock said that once a project is submitted for city approval it usually takes 6 to 12 months for the request to be processed. Pollock said the college applied for approval about a year ago.
President M. Lee Pelton said at a faculty meeting that the first phase of construction—widening the sidewalk—will end in the winter due to weather conditions and the second phase of construction will commence next semester.
“In the spring and summer, the objective is to create a sense of place with benches, planters, and what the architects call ‘wayfinding signage’ for visitors to Emerson and to Boston,” Pelton said.
Vice President and Dean of Campus Life James Hoppe said he hopes the sidewalk expansion will lessen foot traffic in front of the college.
“I’m walking past the little building this morning, there was a whole crowd of first-years waiting to go someplace and they were kind of blocking the sidewalk, and there were pedestrians and people from the city just pushing their way through,” Hoppe said. “I’m looking forward to less of that.”
Pollock said the move-in plan for the Little Building would change after the sidewalk is expanded since construction will eliminate the parking lane and that cars would mostly unload along Tremont Street. The expansion would only affect Little Building’s move-in plan since first-years all move in the same day while returning students trickle in, Pollock said.
Junior Anthony Rodriguez helped during move-in and said the first-year move in went smoothly because of the expanded sidewalk on Tremont Street.
Rodriguez said it would be disappointing to have construction along Boylston Street again after the Little Building and parts of the Walker Building scaffolding were recently taken down.
“There are parts of me that love [the expansion] and parts of me that hate it,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve heard that same thing like, ‘we just got our beautiful sidewalk back and now it has to go away.’ But I think there’s good stuff that’ll come out of it, it’ll just take a while.”