BOT approves safety study

By Sam Cowin

Chancellor Richard Herman’s proposal for an in-depth study of the University’s transportation system passed unanimously at the April 11 Board of Trustees meeting.

The Intermodal Transportation Study will be conducted by Martin/Alexiou/Bryson PLCC, a transportation-planning firm from Raleigh, N.C. It will cost the University an estimated $150,000.

According to the Board of Trustees Web site, the recommendations of the study will be shared with administrative staff members, local elected officials and the Campus Area Transportation Study Technical Advisory Committee for implementing strategy.

“The purpose of the study is to ensure a safe environment on campus,” Herman said. “It will cover all traffic including pedestrians, buses, bikes and cars.”

Herman said that the Board of Trustees considered cost, but was looking for the best overall proposal when deciding which firm would conduct the study.

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Pam Voitik, director of campus services, said the selection process was based on the quality of the firm. She said that the North Carolina firm proposed the best package and had a wealth of experience in conducting similar studies.

The Board of Trustees is hoping to start the Intermodal Transportation Study as soon as possible.

Mike Stubbe, Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District operations planner, said the bus company welcomes the study in addition to a similar study that they are in the process of conducting.

“Agencies working together and sharing information ensures beneficial outcomes for everyone,” Stubbe said. “We will cooperate during the course of the study and take their information into account.”

Nick Klitzing, student trustee and junior in LAS, said it is essential to hire an outside firm to look at the transportation procedures.

“MTD is doing their own study about pedestrian traffic, but we need to conduct a study that we can truly trust from a company that does not have a vested interest in the results,” said Klitzing. “That is why Chancellor Herman recommended this study.”

Jeffery Kroll, attorney for the family of Sarah Channick, the freshman who was hit by a bus last fall and died as a result, said he is more skeptical of the proposed study.

“It is too little, too late,” he said. “The city and the bus company had notice of bus-pedestrian accidents in the past and didn’t act. The bus drivers were not adequately trained and that shouldn’t happen. To undergo the study now is great, but it does nothing for the previous pedestrians who were injured or killed by buses. “

Kroll said the effectiveness of the study will depend on how the University uses the information they obtain.

“If they’re just trying to appease the [Channick] family, then the study is useless,” he said. “If they use the information gained through the study to help train the bus drivers, then the study will be worthwhile.”

Klitzing said he believes the study must be conducted to ensure the safety of students and faculty at the University.

“The University is making sure we get everything we deserve from MTD,” he said. “We are the reason they are around and we need to make sure we get everything we pay for. In the name of Sarah Channick and safety, it is important to at least conduct the study.”