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University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus: UConn’s Future...

University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus: UConn’s Future Gateway

A correctional facility, a mental institution, and a school for the mentally challenged. Sounds like college, right? Surprisingly enough, buildings on the University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus used to be home to these very programs. The University’s acquisition of properties evolved with their closure over the later half of the 1900’s. The former correctional facility on

UConn Storrs Mansfield Connecticut Depot Campus vacant buildings

A correctional facility, a mental institution, and a school for the mentally challenged. Sounds like college, right?

Surprisingly enough, buildings on the University of Connecticut’s Depot Campus used to be home to these very programs. The University’s acquisition of properties evolved with their closure over the later half of the 1900’s. The former correctional facility on Route 44 was added after it closed in 2011. Situated in a low-key area of Mansfield/Storrs, these buildings, with odd histories, give rise to haunted speculation. Some date back to the 1800’s. In varying condition, they sit amongst an assortment of sports fields, cottages, and newer buildings that mostly serve UConn’s niche programs and storage needs. This pastoral setting could serve as UConn’s future gateway because of its location and the space it offers.

UConn Storrs Mansfield Connecticut Depot Campus infill potential

Since its founding as an agriculture college in 1881, UConn has grown along the two-lane Route 195. Eventually, Main Campus has turned into a high-rise college town.

Traffic, and parking, can be hair-pulling, and there is no best way in or out except for back roads. While the university is making access improvements along its northern Route 44 boundary, the motor vehicle problem will not be resolved until UConn is serviced by an Interstate Highway access or commuter rail. On the other hand, Depot Campus is poised at the intersection of Routes 32 and 44 and is in close proximity to a railroad. Therefore, it would make sense to use Depot Campus as the future hub of UConn transportation and expansion.

UConn Storrs Mansfield Depot Campus Sign

Routes 32 and 44 have a higher capacity than 195, despite being only two-lane roads, thanks to design improvements. Although the railroad doesn't currently accommodate passenger rail, it did in the past, and it might in the future. And while the right of way does not run exactly through Depot Campus, a slight jog in the track to accommodate a UConn train stop would be a worthwhile, albeit expensive, investment and infill project that could eventually improve upon the University’s space and accessibility problems.

Every university needs more room for dorms and new classrooms. Endowments beget new buildings. Grant money and industry needs bring new programs. It would be worthwhile to place them on Depot Campus, and present an easier, less congested, scenic, and potentially multimodal way of getting to UConn.

What criticisms do you have of your college campus' transportation options or commute? How does its rural or urban setting effect getting there?  Share your thoughts and stories in the comments area below.

Credits: Images by Dan Malo. Data linked to sources.

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Dan Malo graduated from the University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT), where he obtained a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. He works in municipal land use enforcement for the Town of Windsor Locks, CT.

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