Experts work together to make VCU intersections safer for students

It's an area on VCU'S Campus - that's surrounded by dorms, parking garages, and places to enjoy the great outdoors.
Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 6:48 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - An intersection at VCU’s campus is surrounded by dorms, parking garages and places to enjoy the great outdoors. It also serves as a major hotspot for traffic incidents which is why experts are working to make this intersection, safer for pedestrians.

The Laurel and W. Main St. intersection is always pretty busy; students at VCU use it to walk back and forth to various classes.

It’s also the same place where one student died after being hit by a car while walking. Now experts are figuring out how to prevent a tragedy like this from happening again.

“We were down there taking photographs taking measurements, getting a sense of the conditions that are there, and interactions between pedestrians and automobiles in that particular location.” Erik Bootsma, architect and member of Strong Town, said.

He and other experts went to the exact crash site where the VCU student died on the morning of Jan. 27. In a presentation today. They described dangerous hot spots in that intersection—specifically near the bus stop.

”When we were looking at this particular intersection, we noticed that at this portion of Main Street, there are two lanes and one way, and it has a bus stop there, and it has what we call a slip lane which is a right turn only lane that allows cars to go through the intersection and not have to actually stop,” said Bootsma.

They also did a speed study, finding that seven out of 10 drivers who pass through this intersection exceed the posted 25 mph speed limit, making walking around VCU’s campus relatively dangerous.

Now students on campus are weighing in on what they want to see changed to make walking on campus safer.

“There should be a speed bump or something on this road because there’s tons of traffic all the time,” said VCU Freshman Char’Netha Burks.

The experts have some ideas of their own. It includes putting up a Jersey barrier near that bus stop. They say the change would be a quick, easy fix, preventing cars from using that lane, which would improve that intersection.

Moving forward, they plan to present this evidence to the city council to secure temporary and long-term changes.