The Gavin Herbert Plaza at Jefferson Boulevard and Hoover Street has long been a major point of entry to the University Park campus for many Trojans. The pedaling of bike traffic and pitter-patter of feet on the pavement entrance has long been a part of many students' morning soundtrack, but that won't be the case this semester.

With the beginning of the fall semester just days away, the Trousdale student and public entrance plaza is closed, its flat concrete replaced with dirt, metal fencing, and construction workers. No more Gavin Herbert Plaza ("finger") fountain, no more planter. The space is currently unrecognizable and will remain so into the early months of 2017.

"The purpose of this project is to enhance and expand the north Trousdale plaza to bring it to the same high level of aesthetic beauty as other recent landscape, sidewalk, road and street improvements, and to better accommodate the significantly increased pedestrian traffic to and from the USC Village," said Joe Back, USC Associate Senior Vice President of Campus Development and Facilities Management.

A detour is in place for those entering campus from the area, comprised of a pedestrian pathway on the east side of the plaza stretching from Jefferson Boulevard to 34th Street. In September, a portion of the plaza is scheduled to reopen for normal pedestrian traffic, closing the temporary 10- to 12-foot wide pathway.

A sign at the crowded intersection currently directs campus-bound pedestrian and bike traffic to the USC Gate 4 entrance on Royal Street, just across from the Shrine Auditorium. From inside the campus, another orange detour sign is found on the east side of the United University Church which houses the Dean's List and Good Karma Cafes.

While the detour is not anticipated to cause any significant delays in students' commute time between housing and classes, congestion could become an issue if students aren't careful to avoid accidents.

"Students and others should be patient and not try to ride bicycles and skateboards through the temporary pathway," Back said. "If everyone is just a little patient and avoids crowding through the passageway, everyone will benefit."

Construction on the new and larger plaza is slated to be complete in February and will boast new technical and natural amenities. Roughly 100 new drought-tolerant magnolia, jacaranda, evergreen and fruitless olive trees will shade new benches alongside other drought-friendly landscaping. Brick patterning of the walkways will mirror Hahn Plaza and other characteristic brickwork throughout USC's campus.

New security cameras and Wi-Fi coverage are also among new technical additions to the plaza, which will boast a new main entry gate. The university also plans to restore and highlight Founders' Fountain with monument signage and spot lighting.

A computer rendering of the coming changes to the north Trousdale entrance, provided by USC Facilities Management, shows plans for greenery and brick walkways among other features. (USC Facilities Management Services)
A computer rendering of the coming changes to the north Trousdale entrance, provided by USC Facilities Management, shows plans for greenery and brick walkways among other features. (USC Facilities Management Services)