VMI Construction May Impact Your Visit to Lexington
Significant construction projects continue through the 2020-2021 academic year and may impact traffic and parking on the post of Virginia Military Institute as well as downtown Lexington.
Ongoing projects include:
Aquatic Center - Initial steps have begun for VMI’s new aquatic center, officially known as the Corps Physical Training Facility Phase III (Aquatic Center). The center, which is expected to be completed in approximately 24 months, will be built alongside North Main Street, immediately adjacent and connected to the Corps Physical Training Facility. The center will also be connected to the Knights of Pythias building.
During construction of the aquatic center, community members and visitors can expect short-term road closures on Main Street. Also, a temporary sidewalk will be provided, along with lighting to facilitate pedestrian access along Main Street.
Scott Shipp Hall - Home to five academic departments, Scott Shipp Hall continues to undergo renovation and construction, and is on track for a fall 2021 completion. The building, originally constructed in 1918-19 with an addition in 1955, will remain in use throughout the renovation, with departments and classrooms moving from one part of the building to another as the work takes place.
In addition to a complete renovation of the existing structure, plans feature a 28,000-square foot addition to be built onto the rear of the building. Classes and faculty offices will relocate to the oldest part of the building while the work is taking place. The main entrance off Letcher Avenue across from Shell Hall will also be completely reworked to eliminate what is now on the most common “choke points” on post for cadets as they pass through a set of narrow doors to enter and exit Scott Shipp.
Once the work is complete, the Adams Center for Military History and Strategic Analysis will occupy a 3,600-square-foot space on the 300 level of Scott Shipp Hall, with office space for the director, deputy director, cadet assistants, and a research library.
Chessie Nature Trail Bridge – A long-awaited project for the community is underway. A pedestrian bridge carrying the Virginia Military Institute-owned Chessie Nature Trail over the South River is expected to be replaced over the coming months. The original bridge was washed away by Hurricane Isabel in 2003, and ever since then, trail users have had to detour onto Stuartsburg Road to continue on the trail, which is a 7.2-mile journey from Lexington to Buena Vista. Completion is planned for early May, just in time for the busy trail and river season.
During the months of construction, the Chessie Nature Trail will remain open to the public. A limited closure from Old Shepherd Road to the north boundary of trail parking along Stuartsburg Road at the South River Bridge will be offset with a detour. Informational signage will be in place to direct trail users. Those accessing the river in the area of the construction will need to find alternate locations for entry and exit during this time.
Cadet Parking Lot – A parking lot for cadet cars at Lackey Park, off Greenhouse Road in the vicinity of Rockbridge County High School is under construction. For the past several years, VMI has rented space for cadet vehicles at a parking lot off U.S. 60 east of Lexington, but once the new parking lot is completed, that rental expense will be eliminated. The new, $3.5 million lot, planned for a fall 2021 completion, will include safety features such as security lighting and a fence. Cadets will travel to and from the lot via an Institute-owned shuttle.
Completed Construction Projects:
Anderson Drive – Construction of a new, two-lane bridge over Woods Creek on Anderson Drive was finished just before matriculation in August 2020. The road now curves more gently as motorists exit main post and head toward Jordan’s Point. Turning off the previous, one-lane bridge required a 90-degree turn, but the new bridge has an easier turn to navigate. The project also added a sidewalk leading from the Marshall Hall parking lot to Gray-Minor Stadium.
Preston Library - Near the end of August, an event central to VMI’s educational mission quietly took place: the reopening of Preston Library to the VMI community after a $19.3 million renovation – the library’s first in nearly 25 years. Prior to the renovation, the library entrance, the fifth floor, was somewhat dark and involved two sets of doors. Now, visitors walk through one door into a brighter, wider vestibule and can see the service desk just to the right of the elevator straight ahead.
Likewise, the seventh floor of the library, once inaccessible by elevator, is now accessible. That floor, formerly home to the Mathematics Education and Resource Center (MERC), is now the site of a conference room boasting what could be the best view on post of the Parade Ground—and House Mountain as a bonus in the background.
The sixth floor provides space for academic support services—the MERC, the VMI Center for Undergraduate Research (VCUR), and the Office of Sponsored Programs, which supports faculty research. It is also home to a large study space for cadets and rows upon rows of books.
One floor below on the main floor of the library, where library patrons and visitors enter off Letcher Avenue, is the Turman Room, redone with conference room-style seating. With the need for social distancing, and classroom space in short supply, the Turman Room was used as a classroom. In addition, the newly renovated learning commons features a bank of computers for cadet use, and offices for reference librarians close by.
VMI Police Headquarters – The $5.6 million project to create a new home for the VMI Police, with nearly 11,000 square feet of space was completed in the Fall of 2020. The building itself has been built to withstand the 180-mile-per-hour winds of a Category 4 hurricane. Inside, there is bulletproof glass between staff and visitors, along with dedicated rooms for processing evidence and fingerprints. Upstairs, an emergency operations center (EOC) with a smart whiteboard and televisions for news broadcasts will be able to accommodate eight people working in it at once.