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The Closed Sidewalk on Burrowes Street: An Investigation

For over a year, the sidewalk in front of that hulking brick power plant (?) on Burrowes Street between Steam Drive and College Ave has been closed off by a chain-link fence. What are they hiding? Are they about to unveil a sidewalk painted like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Because this fence blocks the side of the sidewalk that’s most convenient for many students, a three-pronged attempt at investigation took way at the scene of the chain-link.

ATTEMPT 1: 4:23 p.m., Sunday, April 2, 2017:

All quiet on the chain-link front. Perhaps this is because it’s the Christian day of rest? Or perhaps it’s because they’re not doing anything productive behind the mysterious fence. Thankfully, there’s a sign on the fence that tells passersby where to cross the road. How else would we know?!


Out of defiance of this seemingly unnecessary barrier, the two-foot-wide strip of grass between the fence and the curb is muddy with footprints. Screw our sneakers! We’re sending a message.


HALF-ASSED ATTEMPT 2: 9:29 p.m., Monday, April 3, 2017:

Strangely, the lights inside the brick building illuminated the big, arched windows. Do these people only work at night? Are they nocturnal? This supports the theory that there’s something they’re not telling us! If you remove your headphones while walking by after a long night at the lib, you’ll hear the deep hum of some sort of generator or machinery. SpOoKy.

ATTEMPT 3: 3:09 p.m., Tuesday, April 4, 2017:

Important discovery today, Penn State detectives! Through the blue tarp strung up behind the fence, a patch of neon orange could be seen. The sign through the stitching of the tar read:


“Frank Lill & Son Inc., ROAD CLOSED From: Jan 2 To: Jan 6”.

By “ROAD” do they mean “SIDEWALK”? Are they referring to this past January 2-6? (Most of us wouldn’t know because we were on winter break, so they have that to their advantage.) Are they planning on working on this godforsaken project until NEXT YEAR?!?! So far, each discovery has only led to more questions. Is the universe conspiring to tell us to stop searching for answers we’re not ready to face?

Never fear—new ground was broken, in defiance of fate. There’s an opening in the fence.

An “Authorized Personnel Only” sign warns nosy Penn Staters to keep out, but is it illegal to look when the gate is wide open?

In their arsenal, they have not one but TWO excavators, a dumpster, a fleet of white Penn State Offish vans, and one black Lincoln. Looming before them were the partially-demolished, reddish brown remains of an incongruous part of the building.

WHAT does it mean? And WHY is THIS the reason the sidewalk is closed? The pavement leading into the demolition gives way to grass shortly after the opening in the fence, and leads to a small hill with a scenic view of the West College Ave Bloop stop and Cal Tort. Maybe the nefarious project was designed this way so intruders in cars hit a dead end, trapped in this construction hell?

Only one person was spotted on site—a man in work boots and a hard hat, carrying what we will call a “lunch box.” But what business did he have eating lunch after 3 p.m.?! This isn’t Spain. Is he the only person working on this project? That would explain why the fence has been here for so long.

Dear readers, if only there were a simple explanation to whatever is going on on Burrowes Street. Stay strong, citizens of the west side of campus. It’s not over.

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