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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Making pedestrians safer one construction site at a time

Construction+Map
Photo by Texas A&M Department of Transportation
Construction Map

Over the next year, University Drive will be the focus of a $6 million construction project aimed at making the area safer for pedestrians.
The City of College Station partnered with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) to create wider sidewalks, reconstruct travel signals, upgrade medians and create a pedestrian scramble, also known as a diagonal crossing.
The project, which was officially approved Dec. 14, 2017, spans from the east side of the University Drive at the Bizzell intersection to the west side of the University Drive at Tauber and Asbury intersection. The current construction zone is located between Spence Street and Bizzell, in front of the Zachry Engineering Education Complex, causing an eastbound lane closure.
The project was put into action because high growth on both sides of University Drive led to a significant boom in foot traffic, making it necessary to improve the safety for pedestrians, according to Troy Rother, city traffic engineer for College Station.
“With faculty, staff and students we’ve got about 75,000 people,” said Tim Lomax, TTI regents fellow. “On campus, that makes us the fourth largest downtown in the state, Monday through Friday. This isn’t just a football gameday issue, its Monday through Friday, we’ve got a whole bunch of people.”
Currently, pedestrians have to cross University Drive twice Rother said. To avoid the construction zone, people must cross on the east side of Bizzell, north to University Drive, come west and cross on the West side of Spence.
Since University Drive a state owned and maintained, the city of College Station received permission from the Texas Department of Transportation to reconstruct the road and make improvements. Then, TTI will create 12 foot wide sidewalks along A&M’s side of University Drive.
“This is really a big downtown and we have these relatively old sidewalks,” Lomax said. “The sidewalks were put in when A&M had 30,000 students. We have 63,000 now … [and] the daily traffic volume is over 60,000 cars a day. Pedestrian volume is at least 25,000 a day, and with the Aspire student housing development opening in the fall, that number is going to go up even more.”
Upcoming roadway changes include the construction of a median through the Spence intersection, reconstruction of all traffic signals, the movement of the Spence traffic signal to the Church Street intersection and the removal of high speed right turning lanes at University Drive and Bizzell, according to Rother. In addition, there will be a pedestrian scramble added at the intersection of University Drive and Bizzell allowing people to cross in the traditional directions and diagonally.
While the projects’ first section between Bizzell and Spence Street should be complete by mid February, the lane closure is expected to last through May to allow pedestrians to walk.
“I think you’re basically going to have a lane closed in each direction for most of the spring, summer and fall semesters,” Lomax said. “The location of that changes, but the kinds of traffic congestion we’re seeing in the eastbound direction now we’re going to be seeing in both directions and we’re going to be seeing that on football gamedays, potentially.”
There are ways people can avoid traffic throughout the duration of the project, according to Madison Metsker-Galarza, research associate at TTI.
“People can start looking at other routes to take, plan ahead and have more time to get where they are trying to go because we’ll be seeing congestion for a while,” Metsker-Galarza said.
To ensure people don’t walk through the unsafe construction zone, there will be an increase in University Police Department and College Station Police Department officers, Rother said.
“We’re doing it to keep people safe,” Metsker-Galarza said. “We want to keep people out of that workzone, out of that area and using safe crosswalks.”

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  • A short stretch of University Drive is currently under construction. 

    Photo by Photo by Jesse Everett

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