If you have ever been nearly hit by a texting driver that is drag-racing around Circle Drive, you might get to breathe a little easier when you walk around the MSU campus from now on.
After tearing up Beal Street and Circle Drive for improvements to the campus-wide steam heating system, construction crews have made a few major changes to the roads and sidewalks. Most notably, the sidewalk which runs on the south side of Beal Street, high above a bank on the Red Cedar River, now only extends from the IM Circle building to the intersection with Circle Drive. Probably a good idea to remove that sidewalk, as it was slowly sliding down the bank towards the river. The new sidewalk now gives a pedestrian crosswalk to the north side of the street. Note to MSU, it would be good to install a traffic sign for eastbound traffic on Beal Street at this crossing.
The second major change that MSU has made has been to remove the “entry ramp” that used to exist for traffic exiting Circle Drive to turn right onto westbound Beal Street. Anyone who has ever crossed that stretch of road and nearly been hit by a bus (or 20 year-old in a really nice SUV) will appreciate that motorists will now have to come to a full, 90-degree stop before turning right. You can see in the panorama below that dirt surrounding the spot where I am standing is where the “entry ramp” used to be.
Continued improvements might address the intersection just down the road at Circle Drive and Kalamazoo Street, which is easily one of the most confusing and dangerous intersections on campus. A stop sign for traffic proceeding eastbound onto Circle Drive might help slow the speed of traffic, which can easily approach 35 mph. Enforcement of speed would help as well. MSU would also be well-served to have a traffic cop direct traffic at the Sparty Statue during high-volume time periods. The erratic crossings of bikers and pedestrians leads to angry and aggressive motorists, and this is another intersection that is an accident waiting to happen.
However, these changes are a great start. Let me be the first to congratulate MSU for making the area around Circle Drive a more walkable environment. Walkable environments are essential features for healthy communities.