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ND details Juniper plan

Scott Brodfuehrer | Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The University unveiled additional plans for a new four-lane road near Ivy Road to handle the traffic created if Juniper Road is closed at Tuesday’s meeting at Little Flower Catholic Church.University Architect Doug Marsh unveiled the plans for the new road to the over 50 community members in attendance. The road, which will run between Edison and Douglas Roads, is similar to two different plans introduced at community meetings in January but contains more specific details. The new road would run through property the University owns as opposed to taking homes and the project would also involve improving Edison and Douglas, along with modifying access roads on campus.University officials will present the plan to the St. Joseph County Council at their meeting on May 11 and the council could vote on it as early as their June 8 meeting.Under the plan, Edison Road would be moved south and run through the current tailgating lots from Notre Dame Avenue to Ivy Road. The new road would begin off Edison west of Ivy Road and curve to occupy the space where Ivy Road currently runs between Vaness Street and Dunn Road. It would then curve west, intersecting Bulla Road at a stoplight and running behind the Fischer Graduate Apartments, meeting Douglas Road at a traffic roundabout. Traffic on both directions on Douglas Road, in addition to traffic on the new road, would intersect at the roundabout.Marsh said that studies show that traffic roundabouts are 40 percent more efficient than a regular signalized intersection and “a million times faster” than the flashing light that currently directs traffic at the intersection of Ivy and Douglas Roads. However, the idea of a roundabout was not popular with some residents, including Cesar Aquino, who questioned how well South Bend residents would be able to negotiate it even though the concept is successful in Europe and the East Coast.Douglas Road would be expanded to four lanes between the roundabout and the current Old Juniper Road by the Notre Dame Federal Credit Union, which would have a traffic signal and connect with Juniper north of campus.A number of changes would take place on local roads, including Ivy and Bulla Road. One segment of the current Ivy Road would run from Douglas Road to a cul-de-sac near Dunn Road. Another segment of Ivy Road would run from an alley south of Vanness Street to a cul-de-sac that would back to Edison Road. Traffic moving west on Bulla Road from Ironwood would dead-end near the current Ivy Road and would not connect to the new road.With the exception of Vanness Street, no local roads would connect to the new road, which could handle a 40 mph speed limit. At Vanness Street, where students currently cross Ivy Road to access campus from apartment complexes such as Turtle Creek, crosswalks would be put in place and there would be a landscaped median between both directions of traffic to aid pedestrians in crossing.Even with the median and crosswalks, residents like John Norton, who lives north of campus on Juniper, were concerned about having students cross a four-lane road.”It’s going to be a hassle for students,” he said. “They’ll be darting through traffic. … They’ve got designated crosswalks but they don’t necessarily use them.”The plan would also involve building new roads on the campus. Eddy Street, which currently ends at Edison, will be opened through campus, passing between the Stadium and DeBartolo, allowing public access to these buildings, in addition to the Snite Museum and the new Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. The access road will loop around the back of the Joyce Center and through the C1 lot, which will be redesigned to add more landscaping and safer access for pedestrians. Cars will be able to access the B2 and D2 parking lots on the northeast end of campus three ways: by entering Bulla Road via the new four-lane road, by using Leahy Drive from a new connection to Douglas Road or by driving on an access road in front of Stepan Center to a new light at St. Joseph Drive and Douglas Road.Community response to the proposal was mixed. Many residents are still opposed to the closure of Juniper Road, but are appreciative of the efforts the University has made to include community input in the proposal.”I think you guys did a great job,” Aquino said. “Unfortunately there is an isolationist attitude of Notre Dame that I hope over time changes … [but] this a good proposal. This is inconveniencing 10,000 people, but it is only moving them 500 feet to the east.” And many residents had been expecting the University to request the road to be closed for years.”It’s been a long time coming,” Norton said. “You could see it coming … you’ve got more academic buildings going across [Juniper]. They’re going to have to close it, there’s no two ways about it.”