Open house, parade mark opening of Cardinal Gateway


By Donna Thornton/News Editor

Gadsden State Community College marked the completion of a project to improve safety and connect the East Broad and the Wallace Drive campuses Feb. 11 in Mardi Gras style, with a parade and ribbon cutting, as well as open houses at the Automotive Service Technology program and at the Bevill Center.

Dr. Mark Heinrich, chancellor of the Alabama Department of Post-Secondary Education, and Mary Scott Hunter of the State Board of Education were among the state dignitaries present for the opening of the Cardinal Gateway Project.

Gadsden State Community College President Raymond Staats welcomed all guests and spoke of the importance of this and other physical improvements at the college.

“We are excited about the completion of this project as the first step in revitalizing our Gadsden State campuses,” Staats said. “The Gateway greatly improves student and employee safety and access.

“We are proud to be on a journey to make the physical presence (of Gadsden State) match its academic quality,” Staats said.

Henrich said it was a proud day for the entire post-secondary system. He recalled Staats bringing a video of traffic at the intersection to a meeting, and hearing gasps as the audience saw several near accidents. This project, he and others said, is designed to make it safer.

“Everything we do day in and day out is about you,” Heinrich said to Gadsden State students gathered for the ceremony.

Construction on the Gateway Project began in July 2012, which was designed to improve safety for students, staff and visitors, alleviate a traffic hazard, and connect the East Broad and Wallace Drive campuses, according to a press release from Gadsden State.  More than 24,000 vehicles travel through this area daily and moving from campus to campus proved to be a challenge, especially at peak traffic times. The campus gateway features a new road with a four-way traffic signal and is designed to better accommodate students and visitors. The new intersection provides a “push to walk” convenience for students or pedestrians to allow easily access to both campuses.          

As a result of the new design, additional parking spaces will accommodate students and visitors at the Wallace Hall Fine Arts Center.

Gadsden State’s Automotive Service Technology building is the newest instructional building located on the East Broad Campus of Gadsden State. The facility is equipped with four new vehicle lifts, eight bays for student instruction, and classroom space. Four-wheel electronic alignment is performed on vehicles using the latest technology with the new Hunter electronic lift and laser alignment machine.

Renovations to the Bevill Center, located on the East Broad Campus, established a world-class facility with a professional office suite for Alabama Technology Network-Gadsden (ATN-Gadsden) including ten staff offices, a modernized workroom and an enhanced Executive Board Room.  The Lecture Hall, which capably seats more than 100, was renovated and updated to better serve instructional needs and the needs of the community.

This new center is now the home of over 200 degree-seeking students from four associate degree programs and provides advanced technological learning experiences in the areas of Automotive Manufacturing, Civil Engineering, Electronics Engineering and Mechanical Design.  Entering the facility, the first focal point is the three automation labs equipped for instruction on ControlLogix Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC’s), Fanuc Robotics and Instrumentation and Process Controls.

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