Story by Abby Siegel, Contributing writer.
Murray State drivers are experiencing the negative effects caused by construction on State Route 121, a $13.6 million construction project that is expected to last until fall 2016.
While the final goal of the project is to provide less congestion around the CFSB Center, the construction has temporarily removed the turning lane onto Gilbert Graves Drive, causing greater congestion on the road that averages 11,000 cars daily.
Jim Smith Contracting Company, LLC, of Grand Rivers will be coordinating with the University to minimize the constructions effects during important Murray State events.
Kristin Livisay, junior from Memphis, Tenn., said she believes the construction is a potential disaster, especially with homecoming and basketball season approaching.
While the University has sent out email reminders, Livisay said more signs could be used to inform those who may be unaware of the construction occurring, such as out-of-state students.
Livisay said she believes the safety of those needing to walk to the stores and restaurants across from the CFSB Center could be at risk, and the road was fine the way it was before construction.
“It’s very unfortunate for walkers,” she said.
Livisay lives on campus and is taking an alternate route to her residential college than she previously took to avoid the overwhelming traffic.
Like Livisay, Karlie Blain, sophomore from Grayson, Ky., is finding an alternate route to her residential college.
Blain said she is mostly inconvenienced by the stoplight at the entrance to Wal-Mart Drive.
“It takes more time than necessary,” she said.
She now avoids this road to prevent sitting at the light for extended time.
Once the improvement is complete on the one-mile stretch between South 12th Street and Bailey Road, State Route 121 will become a four-lane highway with a center turning lane near the CFSB Center.
“I think it is a little dangerous because the road is so narrow,” said Ganesh Taluri, graduate student from Hyderabad, India.
Despite living off campus with no car and having to walk to class, Taluri said the only time he felt the hindrance of construction is when he goes to Hibachi King, a local restaurant, with his friends.
“We need to go slow because it is a single lane, but that doesn’t bother me much,” Taluri said.
Sai Nishank, graduate student from Hyderabad, India, said he doesn’t think the construction presents too much of a problem for the community because everyone follows the road rules – something uncommon for the average Indian driver, he said.
“Road rules [in the U.S.] are pretty good compared to my home country,” Nishank said.
He said in comparison to the limited stoplights, people crossing the road on foot and an overwhelming number of motorcyclists on the road found in India, State Route 121 is safe and organized.
The project is intended to alleviate traffic congestion near the CFSB Center and provide standard sized sidewalks that connect Wal-Mart and Paramount drives to the north and 16th Street.