Oregon State University-­Cascades will begin an ambitious transformation of its campus and the surrounding area when it starts work next month on a 300-stall parking lot, wider sidewalks in the neighborhood, a new roundabout at a busy intersection and filling in its 100-foot-deep pumice mine.

OSU’s board of trustees on Friday allowed the university to proceed with using $13.4 million in state-funded bonds to begin the work.

The changes will prepare the campus for a new, approximately 50,000-square-foot academic building the university hopes to start building in spring 2020.

“We are so excited,” said Kelly Sparks, OSU-­Cascades’ associate vice president of finance and strategic planning. “I feel like this is a huge step forward for OSU-Cascades and the community.”

In March 2018, the Legislature approved $39 million in bonds for the new academic building and infrastructure improvements for the building. The Legislature gave the university $9 million in bonds for reclamation work on its 46-acre pumice mine alongside Chandler Avenue. That will involve raising the mine’s bottom to about 60 feet using material from the pumice mine and a former demolition landfill, also owned by OSU-Cascades, and terracing the entire campus.

Filling the mine will begin in July and should finish in June 2020, according to OSU-Cascades documents.

At the same time, construction crews will make various infrastructure improvements near the campus, Sparks said. The projects include a roundabout at the busy nearby intersection of SW Colorado Avenue and SW Columbia Street, a 300-stall parking lot on the north side of campus, 1.5 miles of road with sidewalks from SW Simpson Avenue to the campus’ existing buildings and a 10-foot-wide sidewalk alongside Chandler Avenue that can accommodate bikers and pedestrians.

Sparks said there will also be sewer, water and electricity lines placed underneath these projects for the new academic building.

The academic building, which will be OSU-Cascades’ second after Tykeson Hall, is expected to have about 10 general-purpose classrooms, two flexible lab spaces and a large event/study room, according to Sparks. There will also be five specialized spaces for the new doctorate of physical therapy program, which will launch when construction is complete, and various other multipurpose creative rooms.

The second academic building will help the university expand its engineering classes to include mechanical and electrical engineering — currently, the university offers courses in energy systems engineering — as well as launch a new outdoor products program.

Next to the academic building will be an amphitheater used for student events and graduation ceremonies.

Sparks and other OSU-Cascades representatives will ask the OSU board of trustees for permission to use the remaining $44.5 million to build the new building and amphitheater in October. She said construction on the two projects will begin “when the snow melts” in spring 2020.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com

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