Campus sidewalk improvements on the way

As much as students have to remember common and everyday rules, such as looking both ways before they cross the street; campus police, campus safety and campus planning have to remember to accommodate them.

Between Student Government Association, University Police and university construction, there seems to be a balance of problems and solutions that are usually addressed accordingly.

However, one issue has yet to be solved. Near the intersection of Kenton Drive and Campbell Drive students find that there are no sidewalks on either side of the street. The same issue arises near the intersection of Grant Drive and Kenton Drive.

Currently, Steve Nienaber, university architect, said construction has begun on new sidewalks. The new sidewalks will pick up where the existing ones end by Albright Health Center. They will continue along Kenton Drive and stop at the end of the road. There will also be a similar sidewalk on Johns Hill Road. This 5-foot-wide, curb-sided sidewalk is estimated to cost between $15-17,000, Nienaber said. “And that’s an inexpensive sidewalk.”

Compare this to the sidewalks on the plaza that are 20  feet wide and eight inches thick. According to Nienaber they have to be this massive because of the truck traffic on them. The sidewalks that are in construction can’t support vehicles.

“We have added crosswalks, but what that does then is slows down traffic,” Nienaber said, because you have that many more places to stop, it backs up into the lots and snowballs from there.

“That’s one of my big goals … is to place it where it needs to be but don’t put too much of it in. Don’t overburden the campus with concrete sidewalks because we are a concrete architecture campus.” Green spaces allow for the softening of campus, Nienaber said. “I’d just rather not have hard surface. I want to have green.”

With about 10,000 people, 5,000 of which are student drivers, and buses, Kenton Drive is the most heavily trafficked, according to Bryan Allen, University Police captain.

“Drivers and students really have to be aware of what’s going on,” Allen explained.

That means a cell phone or music device shouldn’t consume a driver’s focus. Attentiveness is the key everywhere, but especially in those areas on Kenton Drive that don’t have a sidewalk on either side.

Allen said there are some issues in the spring time with students preoccupied with getting to class, so they have officers direct traffic, but significantly less in the summer and fall semesters.

Student Government Association helps deal with campus safety. The organization’s campus safety walk aims to point out issues that students face. “SGA is about the students and so anything they can do to improve the campus they will,” Matt Frentz, SGA senator, said.

There are three different portions of the safety walk Frentz pointed out: a campus portion, a housing portion and a Callahan portion.

NKU has a master plan that includes re-routing traffic to the outside of campus and making the majority of Kenton Drive a pedestrian path. The road will go to the turnaround by Norse Commons and dead end. Kenton Drive thus will be for pedestrian traffic, encompassing a bike lane.

The new loop road will move students to the middle of campus and vehicular traffic to the outside. The parking lots will fill from the west side drivers, as drivers can’t make the link from Norse Commons to Griffin Hall, Nienaber said.