Police help pedestrian safety along Gregory Drive

Despite efforts by police and University housing, some students still walk in the street along the construction fence on Gregory Drive. Erica Magda

Despite efforts by police and University housing, some students still walk in the street along the construction fence on Gregory Drive. Erica Magda

By Mark Rivera

Construction is one word that has become synonymous with Gregory Drive since work began on a $76 million dining facility and residence hall wing in March 2007.

But, although construction will affect the residence halls along Gregory and Peabody drives until its estimated completion in March 2010, safety issues may be easier for those living in the Six-Pack to handle this year, mostly because they’ll be getting a lot of help.

“It’s not just University police working to keep pedestrians safe. It’s also housing and construction project managers,” said Sgt. Tony Brown of the University police department.

Still, University police are taking steps to keep pedestrians in an active construction zone safe.

As part of the University police department’s pedestrian safety program, during the first few weeks of school University police officers will try to educate pedestrians about exactly what laws by which they must abide while walking.

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“We’ll be actively stopping pedestrians when we see a violation of the law,” Brown said.

Brown also said the police aim to educate and gain voluntary compliance from pedestrians.

However, if the violation is serious enough, education will not stop police from issuing a $75 ticket, Brown said.

“Students should not be walking on the street or bike path (along Gregory Drive),” he said.

Instead, pedestrians are required to cross at the Gregory Food Service Drive and walk on the north sidewalk along Gregory Drive.

This sentiment was shared by the University housing department.

“Please don’t walk in the street,” said Kirsten Ruby, assistant director of housing for marketing. “The last thing you want to do is make a truck choose between you and the fence.”

However, with the amount of information given by housing to Gregory and Peabody drive residents, finding the right path is a glance away.

Residents were given a pamphlet detailing pedestrian pointers and a map of safe walking paths, as well as University housing chip-clips, a Frisbee, pens and stationery, Ruby said.

All point students living in residence halls affected by construction to the University’s construction Web site. There, they can find safety updates and a construction project timeline.

“We want to over-communicate,” Ruby said.

Yet, for some residents, communication has been an issue.

Although he hasn’t had any problems directly caused by construction, Collin Burdick, freshman in LAS and Weston Hall resident, said University Housing did a bad job of communicating.

“I haven’t heard anything from them,” he said.

Still, this is not the case for all residents affected by construction.

“The University’s done a great job keeping me safe,” said Dylan Rakestraw, freshman in LAS and Forbes Hall resident.

He noticed the pamphlet on construction and saw fliers posted around, he said.

However, safety methods for those living in a construction zone will be easier to teach a new group of students, Sgt. Brown said.

“We’re trying to create a norm of what is and is not acceptable,” he said. “If we can get to (pedestrians) early, we have the best chance of keeping everyone safe.”