Pedestrians, Drivers Weigh in on Underpass Delay< < Back to
Richland Avenue’s crosswalk has always buzzing with activity. Now that the street’s planned underpass has been pushed back to 2020, both pedestrians and drivers parties will still have to deal with the same issues.
Most of the pedestrians are students, who cross the street that connects West Green to the rest of campus. The students come very close to cars and make themselves vulnerable to accidents.
“I heard a lot of students were really disappointed when they heard this was not going to happen anymore because they’d really like to see that happening here for safety purposes,” Madison Sloat, the President of Ohio University’s Student Senate, said.
According to city data from 2015, more than six thousand pedestrians use Richland Avenue every day. Sloat explained that an underpass would have helped alleviate traffic on Richland Avenue and avoid interactions with cars.
For drivers, the lack of an underpass means more traffic as they drive through Richland Avenue.
“Sometimes I’ll be halfway through the crosswalk and someone start running and that makes other people walk at the same time which, I’ve been stuck there for 5, 10 minutes,” Erick Meza, an Ohio University senior said.
Meza explained he drives through the intersection several times a week as part of his daily routine. Many of those drives result in long delays. In one instance, he says he missed out on an internship because of the traffic.
“I was already tight on schedule. I drove because it was actually cold and the weather was really bad … and there were a lot of students walking back and forth, and what happened was I was actually very late to the interview. It actually affected the overall outcome of a potential internship because they saw that as inefficiency on my end.”
Athens City Council delayed the passageway project due to the lack of enough funding. Potential bids for the project were more expensive and lasted longer than what the city estimated.
May city council members understand the concerns of drivers and pedestrians. As councilman Kent Butler says, it’s all about waiting one more year for the best solution.
“You can’t put a price on someone’s life or safety,” he said. “I think this is one of those steps which is a no-brainer for me.”
But with no plan for the near future, this road, as inconvenient as it is, may stay this way for a little longer.