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December 17, 2012
By Megan Akers
A new traffic signal at the intersection of North Virginia Street and College Drive, scheduled for installation this week, will be the latest in a series of construction improvements completed over the last few months to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety on key streets near the University of Nevada, Reno campus. The improvements on Sierra Street and North Virginia Street began Sept. 24.
"We value the University campus and its surrounding neighborhoods and hope to see these improvements provide better and safer routes to and from campus," said Regional Transporation Commission Project Manager Marchon Miller.
Improvements to Sierra Street include new stutter flashers, curb extensions - also known as bulb outs - and bike lanes with parking. The lanes on Sierra Street were reduced from four to three, and the street was also slurry sealed. A mixture of asphaltic oil, water and course sand that is spread over an existing road surface, the slurry seal preserves and extends the life of the pavement.
"The road will still carry the amount of traffic as before, only now, bicyclists have their own lanes and pedestrians have a shorter and safer distance to cross at various intersections," Miller said.
North Virginia Street also has new curb extensions and stutter flashers. New sidewalks were installed at three different locations on the street that previously had none, providing pedestrians with an easier and safer walk along the street.
"The pedestrian and bicyclist improvements are great, but will not be worth anything if students and faculty do not use the safety measures," said Lyle Woodward, Director of Construction Management. "We see pedestrians cross the street all the time without activating the stutter flashers, and we strongly encourage students and faculty to always use the new safety installments."
The RTC identified Sierra Street and North Virginia Street as areas with high priority construction needs, and the project's bicycle and pedestrian improvements were cited by the RTC's Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan.
The project also reflects results of a study on pedestrian safety measures, begun by the City of Reno, the University and Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) in 2005 to find the best possible pedestrian signals for the streets adjacent to the University.
Over the past several years, different pedestrian safety systems, such as stutter flashers, were tested on key streets near the University to determine what systems should ultimately be installed. The study recognized that safety perception is a significant factor contributing to a student's decision to bike or walk somewhere rather than drive. The new safety measures will benefit the notable amount of students who do live near campus and often walk or bike to class.
Once the new signal is installed at North Virginia Street and College Drive, the stutter flasher at this location will be relocated to the intersection of North Virginia Street and 10th Street.
If ever there is a safety concern on or around campus, contact the police duty phone at (775)745-6195.
Megan Akers is a student writer for University Media Relations.