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Dartmouth to Start Construction on Engineering Building Next Month

  • A rendering of the Thayer Engineering and Computer Science expansion, looking west. (Courtesy Dartmouth College)



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hanover — Dartmouth College is expected to begin construction early next month on its $200 million expansion in the west end of campus, including a 160,000-square-foot Thayer School of Engineering building that also will house the computer science department and other programs.

As part of the overhaul, the project will include a new traffic light with a left-hand turning lane at the intersection of West Wheelock Street, Thayer Drive and West Street, impacting thousands of motorists commuting to downtown Hanover from Interstate 91 and the Norwich area. It also includes a three-level underground parking garage that will hold 340 cars.

The Dartmouth project met with little opposition when it came before the Hanover Planning Board in early October. The board later held a site visit and then unanimously approved the project on Oct. 16.

Planning Board Chairwoman Judith Esmay noted that there had been few complaints about the project, and that the building will be visible, but not overshadow the West Wheelock corridor.

“You will see a large building up on the rise, but I don’t think its presence will impinge on West Wheelock,” Esmay said in a phone interview on Thursday.

She also said the traffic signal and a new sidewalk along West Street were important accommodations for pedestrians and traffic safety.

“It’s not a major, major redrawing of that intersection. It’s taking it as it is now and protecting pedestrians and traffic with proper phasing of the light, and it will be keyed into the way the light is phased ... up at Main Street as well,” she said.

Dartmouth said in an announcement on its website last week that construction on the parking garage will start early next month, with construction fencing being erected next week.

The Thayer and computer science building, which also will include the Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship and Dartmouth’s electron microscope facility, will be built on land now used for the Cummings parking lot. As a result, employees at Thayer and the Tuck School of Business will be parking both at the Ledyard lot along the Connecticut River in Hanover and across the river in Norwich in the150-space Lewiston lot, named for the rail station that once operated there. A shuttle bus will serve the lots every 15 minutes between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Dartmouth said.

Work on the Thayer building itself, above the garage, is expected to start in late 2019, with an opening planned for 2021.

“The construction is something the town will have to get through,” Esmay said. “As to its long-term impact, the neighborhood seems just fine with it.”

John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com or 603-727-3217.