That complaint by university endowment managers about taxes meaning fewer edifices being erected for development officers to then sell naming rights got me to thinking about the west campus project at Northern Illinois University.  "The $286.5 billion transportation bill signed into law by President Bush [in August 2005] in Aurora includes $8.32 million to plan, design and build new roads on the west side of campus."  Mr Bush was in Aurora to demonstrate that he could work with Congress, in this case with the then speaker of the House, J. Dennis Hastert of Yorkville.  Perhaps the earmark got Mr Hastert an honorary degree, or perhaps not, but it's moot as Mr Hastert subsequently lost his degree for conduct unbecoming.  The federal government did come through on the construction (albeit without those obnoxious Obama era signs).  "The roads paid for in an earmark to the porkulus transportation bill of the early 2000s continue to hurry traffic through otherwise unimproved land the university once intended to build buildings to sell naming rights to."

There have been some improvements to the land, including an intramural complex that is fenced off except when scheduled events, including Quidditch, are in progress.

I took that picture on the morning of Wednesday, 22 November, and the students had mostly departed for the suburbs, but these grounds are idle during a lot of other apparently good play-time.  A day like that Wednesday, or today, would be occasion for lots of impromptu tossing the football around in the pre-electronic shackles era.

There is one new building, the Northern View Apartments, which replaced the graduate student housing that had to be torn down for construction of the tony New Hall.  That's probably an improvement across the board, as the old graduate student housing was adequate by military family housing standards, and Douglas Hall, an undergraduate residence hall demolished to extend a road, was 1950s institutional at its best.

As far as I know, naming opportunities are available for both Northern View and New Hall.

As part of the landscaping, there have to be catch basins to protect the watershed, or perhaps because they look pretty, or simply because as long as there is open water, there will be geese.

The steam plume on the horizon is the Byron cooling towers.  We burn a lot of neutrons to bring you Cold Spring Shops.

I'm not sure if the university leases out unimproved land for farming, the harvest is mostly in by now.

And the roads have the latest in traffic taming techniques.

That's a partial rotary at right, and there is a full rotary at left.  None, however, where these roads join the bypass road in the distance.  Technically, Illinois calls 'em roundabouts, but these are honest-to-Massachusetts one lane rotaries without the complexity the traffic engineers like to build into them in Wisconsin.

Not that there's a lot of traffic.  I didn't see any No Parking signs; I was also able to stop anywhere along these roads to snap pictures.

Thanks, taxpayers.

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