by David Reich
Engineering Public Affairs Officer
Students returning to Wayne State University campus for the 2010 fall semester will immediately discover significant changes, first when they try to find parking on campus, and then when they walk to class.
The Anthony Wayne Drive (AWD) Enhancement Project is in construction phase at this time and is not expected to be completed by the first day of class September 1. But a new crosswalk for pedestrians and changes to campus parking will be.
The purpose of the AWD Enhancement Project is to reduce vehicular speed and manage vehicular traffic flow through this main north and south corridor through campus, making it more pedestrian-friendly and reducing the chance for pedestrian-auto crashes.
To reduce traffic and congestion, planners have eliminated access to Parking Structure 2 from southbound Anthony Wayne Drive. Instead, all access to Structure 2 will be routed from the northbound Lodge Freeway Service Drive. To help reduce back-ups while entering the structure, additional entrances have been opened to Parking Structure 2.
Parking spaces, although limited to 1 hour and 30 minutes, are being added along Anthony Wayne Drive. The number of stalls will increase from 34 to 144, said Tapan Datta, Director of the WSU Transportation Research Group, the engineers leading the AWD Enhancement Project. The increase in on-site parking will be achieved by converting two of the original four lanes on each side of the boulevard to parking lanes. A bike lane will also be included on the right-hand side in each direction.
A special pedestrian activated “HAWK” (High-intensity Activated crossWalK signal) signal at the crosswalk between the College of Engineering main entrance and the General Lectures Building was installed to improve pedestrian safety.
“Pedestrians currently are not using the crosswalk properly,” Datta said, “and it will take some time for them to get used to it.” That’s why graduate students in the Transportation Research Group will be distributing and posting informational flyers the first week of the semester and beyond. These flyers explain how to use the new HAWK signal to safely cross Anthony Wayne Drive.
Wayne State Public Safety officers will also be handing out courtesy notices to both pedestrians and drivers, said WSU Police Chief Tony Holt. Everyone will have to change their driving and pedestrian habits in regard to proper street crossing and driving behavior, he said.
It will likely be the first encounter by pedestrians to the “HAWK” pedestrian-activated crosswalk. A sign describing the cross cycle will be posted near the activator button on each side of the crosswalk.
Both the traffic signal for motorists and the pedestrian “countdown” sign remain dark until the curbside button is pushed and the crosswalk cycle activated. The “walk” cycle commences with the appearance of a red hand in the pedestrian sign box. This phase is followed by a “start crossing” phase, generally 5 to 10 seconds long, then starts the flashing don’t walk signal to allow pedestrians to arrive at the median island. There is normally enough time to arrive at the pedestrian island, even if the pedestrian starts out across the street a few seconds into the walk phase of the cycle.
The entire cycle is designed to be completed within one minute or so, explained Datta. That way, the four traffic signals on Anthony Wayne Drive through campus from Warren Avenue to Kirby Street can be sequenced to allow for a continuous flow of traffic when vehicles maintain the posted speed. “There’s a lot of logic that goes into it to make it work,” said Datta.
While the short “walk” phase of the cycle may not give the pedestrian much time to cross the entire street, the crosswalk cycle can be activated anytime by the pedestrian. The good news for pedestrians is that the most time anyone will have to wait is one minute for each cycle.
As Datta described it, “It may take awhile for people to get used to it.