August 24, 2011

TCC Trinity River East Campus to open Monday

The center for health professionals sits on bluffs on the north edge of downtown Fort Worth.

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FORT WORTH -- Construction fences are down and classrooms await students at the Trinity River East Campus -- Tarrant County College's new $185 million downtown center for health professionals.

Classes begin Monday at the 148,000-square-foot facility at Belknap and Calhoun streets near the Tarrant County Courthouse.

Campus police and security officials are reminding downtown drivers to expect more pedestrians and vehicles in the area.

"It's going to increase the traffic flow," said TCC Police Sgt. Lavern James, adding that with an estimated 700 students, more activity is expected near the campus's parking area at Jones and Belknap streets.

The long-awaited facility on the Trinity River bluffs is described as the eastern wing of the Trinity River Campus.

The campus features three key buildings -- a welcome center that rises from a sunken plaza toward Belknap Street, a western wing for nursing classes and an eastern wing for allied health professions, such as those involved in respiratory care and radiology.

The campus has about 20 classrooms and replicated hospital rooms with computerized manikins that serve as English- and Spanish-speaking patients for nursing students. The campus also has a digital library, a large auditorium and an outdoor classroom overlooking the Trinity.

Traffic concerns

James said students will also park at a garage at the nearby Trinity River Campus and a lot on Henderson Street. Those students will walk 8 to 12 minutes to the new campus.

Spokesman Frank Griffis said TCC is sending e-mails advising students about traffic concerns.

Campus police are stressing safety features and tips.

"It's an urban environment and you have to be conscious of what you are doing," James said.

Trinity River East has three police storefronts, more than 200 security cameras and blue emergency telephones that allow passers-by to push a button to speak to TCC police. Using an emergency phone turns on nearby cameras.

"When you push the button, you talk directly to a dispatcher who can see them," James said.

Security patrols

The campus will be monitored around the clock by police and security guards, who will use bikes and a three-wheeled electric vehicle. An all-terrain vehicle to patrol the nearby trail area will soon be available, James said.

The sunken plaza, which has a waterway that flows north toward the river, will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

People who wander through the plaza after hours will be reminded they can't be there, James said.

The waterway won't flow continuously.

"At 10 p.m., that water feature goes off," James said, adding that anyone who tries to step into the water will be told not to.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675

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