Medians added in effort to improve Fourth Street

A pedestrian waits to cross Fourth Street at its intersection with Chalmers Street, where many changes are taking place. John Paul Goguen

A pedestrian waits to cross Fourth Street at its intersection with Chalmers Street, where many changes are taking place. John Paul Goguen

By Julian Scharman

Congestion on Fourth Street during heavy student pedestrian hours has been the cause for recent concern. Actions taken by the Campus Area Services department with cooperation from the University Police department have begun to alleviate issues with pedestrian crossings and traffic.

According to the Campus Area Transportation Study conducted in 1999, plans were outlined for traffic calming at 15 locations, including the intersections where Armory Avenue, John Street, Chalmers Street, Gregory Drive and Peabody Drive cross Fourth Street.

The first and sole renovation, at this point, is the establishment of raised concrete medians to allow for students to break up their travel from one end of the street to the other. The concrete medians are also serving as a way to channel traffic at the offset intersection with Chalmers, said Pam Voitik, director of campus area services.

The medians are part of a comprehensive plan to improve Fourth Street pedestrian and motorist traffic and were the first improvement made for two reasons, Voitik said.

“At this time, there are not enough funds to go forward with the entire recommended improvements,” Voitik said. “So we went forward with just the concrete medians as a way to measure the efficacy of improvements made on that street.”

The priority given to Fourth Street construction has stemmed from a number of pedestrian and motor accidents that have occurred at Fourth Street and several other intersections.

The most recent accident happened at Fourth Street and Armory Avenue, where a young man was struck by a rehabilitation bus while running in front of it.

Shortly thereafter, the man received a citation from the Champaign Police, said Lt. Skip Frost, control division commander of the University Police department.

“It’s just little things like that where we want people to be very cognitive of the fact that you have to take steps to ensure your own safety and we can’t be there at all times,” Frost said.

Other renovations for Fourth Street include the construction of several lit traffic signs, pedestrian signs, more road striping and more clearly defined crosswalks.

Voitik said that until other traffic studies are completed and evaluated, there are no more specific projects scheduled at this time.

“Both the drivers and the pedestrians are responsible for pedestrian safety,” Frost said. “And if people will just voluntary comply with the law and their surroundings, then there shouldn’t be any issues.”