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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pedestrian safety a concern in construction areas near UA campus

Tyler+Baker++%2F%2F+The+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AStudents+j-walk+across+Park+Avenue+Tuesday+afternoon.+Construction+has+blocked+off+the+sidewalk+just+south+of+speedway+and+has+created+a+j-walking+hazard.
Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker // The Daily Wildcat Students j-walk across Park Avenue Tuesday afternoon. Construction has blocked off the sidewalk just south of speedway and has created a j-walking hazard.

Construction workers near the UA said they are increasingly concerned about students and passers-by jaywalking through construction areas.

The Speedway Boulevard and Park Avenue intersection is still occupied as off-campus housing construction projects, such as Next, progress, limiting drivers and bikers to one lane. Students headed to nearby convenience stores and restaurants are also limited to the sidewalk on the east side of the road.

Despite road signs, restrictions have been ignored by pedestrians who proceed to walk through the construction sites, according to Patrick Linneen, superintendent at Beal Derkenne Construction.

Linneen said monitoring passers-by in the area was especially difficult during the move-in rush, before the start of the semester.

Without safety enforcement during some of the road’s busiest hours, it has become more common for students to jaywalk through the road to avoid the crosswalk, Linneen said.

Although the location does have a permit from the City of Tucson to be on-site, there is no police presence to direct traffic. Occasionally, construction workers will work on flag duty to prohibit pedestrians from walking through the fenced area, but they are not authorized to issue tickets.

“We recently had to re-erect the crane, and some students walk right through the blocked entrance with their headphones on,” Linneen said. “They walk right under the crane, oblivious to what’s going on.”

Francis Daniels, a music education freshman who lives nearby at Manzanita-Mohave Residence Hall, said he often walks through the intersection.

“I had to wait a long time just to cross the intersection to get to the open sidewalk,” Daniels said. “It would really make a difference if a police officer were there for traffic. I have had to jaywalk about five times.”

Derek Cook, a computer science junior, said he was also confused about the intersection, as he just transferred to campus this semester.

“All of this construction is new to me … I think adding more detour signs would make it easier for me to avoid closed or dead end streets,” Cook said. “I was upset about having to make one large loop while driving.”

Dealing with passersby interfering with the construction site is left up to police enforcement, according to Chris Leighton, special events coordinator for City of Tucson Department of Transportation and UA almuni. Workers on-site are typically only responsible for maintenance in the area, Leighton added.

Filbert Barrera, public information officer for UAPD, said enforcing traffic safety on the UA campus is a “unique” situation. Since construction projects like Next are private, they sometimes have to work with the city or the Tucson Police Department to maintain safety.

UAPD has not received any formal complaints to date, but traffic
enforcement efforts continue in other heavily congested areas on campus, according to Barrera. Areas such as the intersections of Sixth Street and Fremont Avenue, and Sixth Street and Lowell Street, have been closely monitored by officers during the peak hours of the day, Barrera said.

Currently, five policemen on motorcycles monitor the areas between Cherry Avenue, University Boulevard and Park Avenue, Barrera added.

Those, along with other areas, are the main arteries of traffic enforcement on campus, Barerra said.

A recent grant through the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety will also allow UAPD to add two more police officers on campus to enforce bicycle and pedestrian safety, according to Barrera.

With the semester coming off the fall rush, Linneen said he can only hope newer students will adjust to the current road conditions near construction.

“Everything’s a matter of safety for now, whether it’s the public or on our site,” Linneen said. “It’s been a big problem, but this is where we’re located … We try to not be belligerent with enforcing it.”

-Follow Monica Contreras @m_contre

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