Blacksburg, Va. February 17–Pathways: The drillfield is the most central part of campus, dividing the academic and residential halves. It sees a heavy amount of foot traffic on an everyday basis. Photo: Daron Hennessey
by Daron Hennessey–
Administrative Services installed samplings of paths alternative to asphalt on the Drillfield in the fall of 2015. There are nine different styles of path on the major paths, and five different styles for the minor paths, two of which have already been eliminated due to their poor upkeep in the rain and snow of the last three weeks.
The first round of polling took place from September 14th to September 25th, and the second round will reopen on February 22nd and last until March 4th. The final round will occur in the spring. The three-tiered polling process is intended for students to give feedback on the different paths’ performances in different kinds of weather.
Laura Neff-Henderson, the communications director for the university’s Division of Administrative Services, said that the University wanted to test the materials and get as much feedback as possible from the people who cross the drillfield every day.
“The Drillfield is a pretty high-profile area on campus,” said Neff-Henderson.” People usually feel pretty strongly about it one way or another.”
Neff-Henderson explained that the original asphalt was put down as temporary safety precaution when the dirt paths created by heavy pedestrian traffic were creating mud. According to the the official Virginia Tech history of the drillfield, the first two asphalt paths were laid in 1971. The new paths are the university’s thorough attempt to create a more permanent solution to the problem.
The polling results are organized by percentage of likes and percentage of dislikes. The porous gravel and the first style of pavers got the most percentage of likes in the first round of polling. The university also encourages Twitter-users to tweet @drillfieldpaths with a hashtag of like or dislike and the numerical identifier of the path on which they have feedback. This combined with the polls at vt.edu allow them to create the bar graph showing feedback.
“We really wanted people to have a say in the decision,” Neff-Henderson said. “The poll results from the fall already show us that there’s a divide in the people that prefer different materials, but the goal is getting a community consensus over one material that will work.”
After the spring polling is finished, the public’s top choices will be taken into account along with the cost of installation.
“What will happen is all of the feedback will go back to the drillfield paths committee,” said Neff-Henderson.” The committee will take that into consideration, will look at the poll results, and make a decision. And then we have to look at the cost ramifications and how to fund the project.”
Because of these factors, Neff-Henderson said there is no firm date by when students can expect the new drillfield paths to be ready. But when the polling opens next Monday, the 22nd, everyone is welcome to submit an official opinion.