Catholic University invests $57.5 million in expansions
By John McPhaul
The modernization of multiple structures, new technologies and the construction of a building that will house innovative science laboratories are part of a major project to improve the infrastructure of the three campuses of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico (PUCPR by its Spanish initials) in Ponce, in a project that will be completed over the next three years with an investment of more than $57.5 million, officials announced Wednesday.
PUCPR President Dr. Jorge Iván Vélez Arocho highlighted that the funds for the more than 30 works on the agenda for the three PUCPR campuses come from various items that include federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund II (HEERF II), Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSAA), as well as funds from the university’s capital improvement project plan.
“Today we are creating the university of the future, with a new façade and better access entrances to the Ponce campus, a million-dollar investment in technologies with more than 178 smart classrooms, and the comprehensive modernization of several university buildings, libraries, and student residences, in addition to the construction of a structure in tune with the demands of the 21st century, new laboratories for the Natural Sciences Faculty,” Vélez Arocho said in a written statement. “We are halfway through our third year of work on a five-year project, overcoming unimaginable challenges to complete a great work for our students and for the entire university community.”
The president stressed that one of the elements that has contributed to the speed of the work is PUCPR’s own investment.
“The University has a solid financial position, free of debt,” he said. “So we have allocated our internal investments in innovative spaces with the latest technology and cutting-edge infrastructure.”
Armando Rodríguez Torres, director of PUCPR’s Department of Infrastructure and Conservation, noted that the process of inspections, claims and repairs continues as a result of Hurricane Maria and the earthquakes that struck southern Puerto Rico early last year.
“Likewise, we work with capital improvement projects, that is, in designs, bids and construction,” Rodríguez Torres said. “Among the repair work related to damage caused by Hurricane Maria is the work at the Sports and Cultural Complex.”
Renovation work was also carried out in the Forteza building of the School of Architecture, the Encarnación Valdés library, where leaks were fixed and painting was finished. One of the projects of great pride for the university is the improvement of driveways. Slated for remodeling, in their entirety, are the entrance from Luis A. Ferré Boulevard, which adjoins the Santa María parish, and the entrance near Católica Radio, on highway PR-2. The Amanda Street entrance will also be renewed, including a road that runs from Luis A. Ferré Boulevard to La Católica.
“This entrance will create a space that includes, not only a simple entrance, but a project that integrates all the elements that surround it …” Rodríguez Torres said. “The Amanda Street entrance, through the area of the Law School and the McManus Building, is one of the busiest thoroughfares, particularly for Law School, master’s and evening class students. This project will improve the entrance and provide a more aesthetic and safe space, which is important for the institution.”