By Raina Bedford
Any student who’s crossed the street between the Student Union and the Melville Library during campus lifetime knows what a pain it is to get cars to stop at the crosswalk.
“I feel bad you have to make the cars just start and stop and cut them off,” said Victoria Goldenberg, a third year student from Brooklyn.
“Maybe they can build a small bridge so we don’t have to stop cars, we can just walk over them,” she said.
While this would solve the problem, Barbara Chernow, the Vice President of Facilities, has an alternative solution. She has proposed a plan to close John S. Toll Drive to vehicular traffic and instead only allow delivery trucks to access the six loading docks located near the food centers at Jasmine and the Student Union.
“I felt years ago that this was an area that perhaps pedestrians weren’t crossing and looking as best they could,” Chernow said.
Last year the university stopped routing busses down John S. Toll Drive for this very same reason. Chernow said she fears that students may be in danger of being hit by vehicles on that road.
Farooq Zafar and his three friends know that fear all too well. Zafar said that two years ago while crossing John S. Toll Drive near the Physics Building, he and three friends almost got hit by a car.
“She stopped for us and then just started going again,” he said. “We came really close to getting hit.”
For this reason Zafar said that closing the road to vehicular traffic is a good idea but Goldenberg is not so sure.
“I don’t really think they should close off a road,” she said. “What are they going to do with the space instead? They should just build a small bridge for us.”
Goldenberg’s opinion stems from her concern that campus traffic may worsen if John S. Toll Drive is closed. She said that the streets are already congested with traffic, especially around peak times, and that closing off a street like John S. Toll Drive may cause more problems than it solves.
Vehicles have struck students on campus before, but not in front of the Student Union. On Dec. 8, 2005 a car struck and killed Simona Grabocka on Circle Road in front of Roosevelt Quad near the bike path. A black silhouette cutout remains at the corner where she died.
Since her death the University has increased the number and visibility of stop signs, and in 2006 even hired Wiley Engineering P.C., a consulting engineers firm, to study pedestrian and driver habits on campus. The firm analyzed campus roads at peak hours and found several areas of campus to be especially dangerous. The intersections of Circle Road and John S. Toll Drive, Circle Road and Campus Drive, Circle Road at Roth Quad, Circle Road at Engineering and Circle Road at the Kelly bus stop were all identified as areas of concern by the consulting firm.
Lauren Sheprow, Head of Media Relations, was reluctant to give any further information on the proposed plans to close John S. Toll Drive to traffic. The plan is still in the development stage and many of the details have not yet been planned. It is also unclear when the university plans to close the road to traffic if they ever do.
So it remains a brainchild of Chernow, one proposal pending among many. Maybe they will close of John S. Toll Drive to vehicular traffic, maybe they won’t. Or maybe they’ll just build a small bridge instead.