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story.lead_photo.caption Cracks are visible in this section of the Senior Walk near Old Main on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, campus.

FAYETTEVILLE -- A plan to replace crumbling concrete sections of the Senior Walk at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville received a $150,000 boost from a state grant approved earlier this month, but no start date has been set for the project.

"Our schedule is yet to be finalized," Mike Johnson, UA's associate vice chancellor for facilities management, said in an email.

The Senior Walk tradition at UA involves inscribing the names of graduates onto campus sidewalks. It began in the early 1900s, and UA officials for years have said some of the oldest sections are deteriorating.

The university is seeking to remove and replace the first 50 years of its Senior Walk, which includes classes from 1875 through 1924. It estimates a total cost of $949,991, according to a grant application submitted to the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council.

The section of sidewalk planned for replacement currently extends a few dozen yards from the main entrance to the Old Main academic building. Granite panels would be installed for each year's class, according to UA's plan, which also calls for what's now a brick plaza area outside Old Main to be replaced with cut sandstone that would match the steps of the academic building.

The university has committed $600,000 to the project, according to its grant application. The $150,000 grant award is less than the $350,000 requested by UA.

However, the council also awarded a $750,000 grant for restoration of the university's Human Environmental Science building and $50,000 to make records relating to the Powhatan tribe more publicly accessible.

Some money from those other two projects, with approval from the council, could be shifted to support the Senior Walk project, Johnson said.

"They have allowed this flexibility in the past and we hope to have their approval to do the same this year. If we're unable to do that then we will develop other funding sources as yet unidentified," Johnson said.

The grant application states UA "has been documenting the deterioration of the original hand chiseled graduating class sidewalks since 2013." One panel, for the 1905 class, has been replaced, but other sections have names now illegible or missing, the grant application states.

Names of graduates for classes from 1904 through 1924 were "hand chiseled into the freshly poured concrete walks," while UA's earliest graduation classes, from 1875 through 1903, had panels set within the Old Main plaza in 1941, according to the grant application.

The plan calls for names of graduates to be carved into the granite panels, which would all be placed to the east of the new sandstone plaza. The plaza would be laid out in what is known as an ashlar pattern, according to the grant application, and be built to support maintenance equipment such as lifts.

A photograph in the application shows the granite panels to be darker than the concrete used for the existing sidewalk. The color, which Johnson described as a "medium gray," was picked to "blend reasonably well with our existing gray concrete sidewalks" and allow the engraved names to be read clearly, he said.

The portion of Senior Walk to be removed would eventually be put on display inside Old Main, according to the plan.

The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council "assisted us in totally renovating the East Portal Entry [to Old Main] several years ago as well as the entire exterior face of Old Main a number of years ago," Johnson said.

Current work at the site involves "making repairs to the upper levels of Old Main where wood soffits and some other surfaces have deteriorated over the past years," Johnson said, as well as replacing some lighting.

Metro on 05/20/2019

Print Headline: UA Senior Walk gets repair grant

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