Garrett: Rowan construction exposes issues with campus design

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A rendered image on what the new student center is set to look like after construction is complete. - Photo / Rowan University

Students and faculty are well aware of Rowan’s inconvenient road and parking design, and the recent construction to the student center has only exacerbated the issue. The renovation project cuts off our campus’s most highly traveled walking path without providing pedestrians a new, alternative route — and this needs to change. 

Students who want to pass through the student center to reach the other side of campus now need to go around other buildings and spend more time walking along the road. Besides adding a few minutes to the commute, the detour is not the primary problem — the ongoing construction is. It blocks off the heavily used sidewalk on the side of the road by Campbell Library, leaving no optional route. As a result, students walking along the street are joined by others rerouted there by the student center construction, creating a congested crosswalk that jams traffic along Rowan’s main artery, Route 322.

Route 322 is the only road that lets vehicles get into the main section of campus, regardless if they are commuter vehicles or Rowan shuttles. This bottleneck creates miles of traffic, and this semester it’s worse than the last. 

As a commuter, I know it often takes up to 10 minutes to travel one mile with traffic. This stretch would normally take only half a minute without traffic. 

This is a bad situation made worse when one considers that Rowan is largely a commuter school. According to the U.S. News & World Report, 67% of students live off campus as of fall 2021. So, ensuring the traffic flows efficiently throughout campus should be paramount. Our university’s decision to begin construction during the fall and spring rather than the summer semester without a proper workaround in place for walking students is irresponsible and ill-conceived. Although this might have been a factor out of the university’s control, the lack of safe travel routes for pedestrians and lack of alternate traffic patterns is dangerous for the Rowan community. While police facilitate vehicle and pedestrian travel, this fails to fix the issue.

Because of this construction, commuting students often find themselves late to class or parking in one spot for the whole day and walking to their class in poor weather conditions. Additionally, students living on campus who walk to class must weave onto different sides of the street and cross the already congested lanes to properly navigate to class. 

I propose that over summer break Rowan installs better alternative routes for pedestrians to alleviate crowded sidewalks and congested roads throughout campus. Once we solve that problem, it could be wise to address our poor road design before the student population grows even larger and the issue worsens.

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