Virginia Tech will begin to install temporary pedestrian paths on the Drillfield today.

The two paths will test 13 different materials being considered for permanent installation in the future. The installation of the test materials is expected to be complete before the fall semester begins.

Noise will be minimal. People will be not be able to walk on portions of the two paths that receive the test samples until the test samples are all installed. All other areas of the Drillfield will remain open.

Over the course of the 2015-16 academic year, the university will monitor performance of the different materials and seek community input via Twitter and on the project website.

The materials, which combine elements of concrete, gravel, and pavers in various colors and patterns were identified in 2014 by a university Drillfeld Paths Committee assembled to identify, test, and evaluate all weather and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) compliant solutions to enhance the green-space aesthetic and multi-use purpose of the Drillfield.

The committee is expected to make a recommendation to university officials about which materials meet the university’s needs following the conclusion of the academic year.

The paths effort is part of a broader initiative supported by the Board of Visitors to develop a new master plan for the Drillfield that will preserve the beauty of the area while making it a more usable space.

The paths, which carry thousands of students daily, were never a planned feature of the Drillfield. They evolved organically as the campus grew and students crossed the area over time. The paths often became muddy which led to significant maintenance issues. Several smaller paths were paved this past summer as a temporary remedy until a more permanent solution could be identified. The larger paths were first paved in the late 1970s. 

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