University, UCAPD aware of traffic congestion on Bruce Street; conversation ongoing with city

UCAPD and UCA are aware of Bruce Street traffic concerns regarding both the large number of pedestrians who cross the street during school hours, as well as vehicles attempting to cross Donaghey Avenue and Farris Road. 

Senior Emily Gilley sent a tweet to the UCAPD Twitter account Feb. 5, requesting that a traffic regulator be present at the crosswalk in front of the Lewis Science Center.

“Pedestrians don’t stop,” Gilley said in her tweet. “They keep coming for 10-15 [minutes]straight. I left 20 minutes early from Salem [Road].”

UCAPD responded four minutes later, saying that it was an issue and the “University is aware and is working on a solution. Hopefully it will be in the near future.”

“I literally sat there for 10 [minutes]without one car getting the chance to go,” Gilley said. “It’s like no one considers that the people in the cars are fellow students trying to get to class too. I feel sorry for the cars waiting and now I’m much more aware of it. I’m one to stop for the cars now instead of the cars stopping for me. I think that if we had a police officer regulating that area to give the cars and pedestrians their time to go, things would run more smoothly—the mornings, especially.”

Gilley said she sometimes sees a UCAPD patrol officer parked by the Lewis Science Center on Bruce Street, but not every morning. She also mentioned that the officer is not out of the car and regulating traffic, which she believes would help traffic.

UCAPD Project Manager Arch Jones said the issue of congestion on Bruce Street during class changes has been an issue since it has existed.

“Bruce Street is a city street, as is Donaghey Avenue,” Jones said. “The Twitter response referred to an ongoing conversation with the city of Conway in this regard.”

In response to faculty complaints about the congestion, Jones said “in order to avoid such inconvenience, we need to plan accordingly and be aware of the time of day as best we can.”

Administrative specialist Jennie Welter’s office is in Lewis Science Center.

“Normally on my lunch break around 1 p.m., I’ll head over to the HPER Center, [where]I have to cross all the pedestrian lanes,” Welter said. “It is a problem if it’s a Monday, Wednesday or Friday and you’re leaving at 1 p.m. and you have all the students crossing. It’s really hazardous when you have so many students crossing right there and you’re trying to drive and it’s congested. It really is.”

Welter said it usually takes her around 15 minutes to drive to the HPER during her break, longer than it would take without the Bruce Street traffic congestion.

Assistant physics professor Balraj Menon said he gets to his office in Lewis around 6:30 a.m. and has learned not to venture out onto Bruce Street during times when pedestrian and traffic levels are high.

“We have focused on enforcement and crosswalk safety awareness,” Jones said. “Our Brake for Bears event that occurs each semester has had a very positive impact on safety in our crosswalks, not only on Bruce but campus wide.

The Physical Plant has also installed crosswalk lights at the crosswalks near Lewis Science Center, the Farris Center and Estes Stadium.” Jones also mentioned the Physical Plant installed caution signs near crosswalks on Bruce Street and throughout campus.

Allan Roisen, the instrumentation technician and lab coordinator for the physics department, said one of the things that causes concern for him is students who don’t bother to use the crosswalks because they don’t line up with the front of building, and because of how the crosswalk lights and sensors were set up.

“They don’t go off until someone’s gone through them,” Roisen said. “Look at how they’re designed.” Roisen said it takes a full step into the sensor, thereby into traffic, for it to go off. He said this does not give oncoming traffic the full warning they need to be aware of pedestrians.

“Pedestrian safety is everyone’s business and it is a priority at UCA,” Jones said. “And—perhaps, as an ongoing conversation with the City—there could be an idea that affords a pleasing change as the Donaghey Corridor is developed.”

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