Virginia Tech looks to improve mobility in new master plan

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) Inventing the future.

Virginia Tech's new master plan envisions what the campus could look like in the next 30 years.

"We have a beautiful campus to start so we want to grow in a really smart and informed way," Virginia Tech spokesperson, Mark Owczarski said.

Some ideas include creating campus common spaces to help with collaborative learning, building new dorms, and preserving the campus's green spaces and agricultural beauty. Tech leaders also expect the campus to grow significantly in student population. With more people on campus, the university is already looking for ways to improve mobility.

"In order for that to happen, you kind of have to mix where you are today with dreams and visions of what the future might be looking like," Owczarski said.

Student enrollment in Blacksburg is expected to grow to about 30,000 (up from its current 28,000 total) in the next 5 to 10 years. More people means more buildings and more traffic.

"Knowing where we could develop in the future, you want to lay a foundation so that whatever we build in the future is accessible to all," he said.

One part of the plan includes a two-mile sidewalk called the Infinite Loop which is a formal pathway that will connect all the districts. Another proposed project would be an outer beltway connecting Prices Fork to the new Southgate interchange.

"These are ideas and possibilities that we want to temperature test as we go forward into the future, but those are the kind of ideas that a campus master plan will hold up so that you have something you can start with," Owczarski explained.

When asked if he thought the campus would be recognizable in the next 30 years, he said he thinks so.

"I think we're still going to see the Drillfield. We're going to see the beauty of the Hokie stone," Owczarski said looking out toward the pylons. "I think it'll be bigger, but I think it'll be bigger in a really smart and planned way."

A lot of people may remember Virginia Tech's Smart Road plan that would connect the Blacksburg campus to the one in Roanoke. It wasn't on this particular master plan, but Owczarski said it's still a very real possibility.