For at least 13 upcoming weekends, the portion of Manning Drive between West Drive and South Columbia Street will be closed off due to the construction of a new pedestrian bridge for the new Dental Sciences Building.
The road’s closure, which began Friday, is scheduled to end July 10, with each closure lasting from 8 p.m. on Fridays to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
Slated for completion by early next year, the project, which has received more than $100 million in funding from the state and University, will add a 216,000 square foot research and administrative center to the School of Dentistry.
Those involved in the project said it will help ease transportation within the school and will also improve pedestrian and vehicle safety.
Between 2005 and 2009, more than 200 car accidents occurred on Manning Drive near UNC Hospitals — at least 100 more than any other road nearby.
Campus safety officials have said the area is one of the most dangerous on campus.
Al Elsenrath, director of support services, said fatal accidents occurred before the construction plans for the bridge began.
“It reinforced the belief that it was definitely needed,” Elsenrath said of safety precautions. “But it didn’t speed up the process or add any money.”
Lindsey Rose, a construction manager for the department of construction management, said the period of March through July 2011 was selected because it was the most convenient time for construction without affecting the hospitals and fire department, among other units.