Commuters and students can feel safer crossing 15th Street due to crosswalks that were installed Monday.
The crosswalks were highly anticipated by students who have been dodging cars when crossing the street, which connects commuter parking lots to campus.
Sophomore Victoria Crum from Murray said she commutes from Benton, Ky., and the crosswalks are a necessity for student safety.
“I cross the street every day,” Crum said. “And when it’s really busy at 8 a.m., the crosswalks are important for making people stop, and it can be dangerous if you don’t have them.”
Crum said that she noticed immediately on Monday when the crosswalks were installed, and had been used to crossing the street to get to campus without the added safety, which she believes is something that students shouldn’t be used to.
“People aren’t used to seeing the crosswalks,” she said. “But they help keep it safe, and that wasn’t there when I first came to Murray State.”
The additional safety is something the city aimed to give to students, and Matt Mattingly, city administrator, said the city wanted to do so by limiting the areas needed to cross the street.
“Our primary objective was to provide safety and make less area to cross,” Mattingly said. “We did this by adding concrete islands to shorten the distance pedestrians needed to walk.”
The shortened distance was required in 2013 through the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mattingly said the city will continue lobbying legislators about 16th Street, but a transportation plan has yet to be determined. Ultimately, the city looks to continue reviewing 16th Street to improve pedestrian and vehicle safety.
The long-term plan Mattingly said the city hopes for is to create an over-under pass for the street.
Interim President Tim Miller said he was happy about the installation of the 15th Street crosswalks, even though there are only two to cover the street.
“I’m just glad that they’re finally getting crosswalks there,” Miller said. “We’ll see how it works out, and I know it’s only one crosswalk less than what we used to have.”
Miller also said he was concerned about the new shortened distance because the concrete islands limit the amount of space that cars have to pass. However, Miller said he was reassured by professionals who said the concrete islands were standard and cars had ample space to safely pass.
However, Miller said he believes the focus will now shift back to 16th Street.
“I think it’s got to,” he said. “That’s where it’s serious and that’s where all the traffic is with 11,000 cars a day and 3,300 students in an eight-hour period.”
Miller said the addition of working on 16th Street has not been included in Gov. Steve Beshear’s road plan, but that it needs to be considered as a priority project. He said Urray State is doing all it can to get it back in the budget.
“Right now, we have the engineering and physics in our budget and if they start construction and then we have all that traffic with nothing being done, it can really be a problem,” Miller said. “We need to get that corrected.”
Story by Mary Bradley, Staff writer