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ND on track with road plans

| Thursday, January 15, 2004

Notre Dame has traditionally been a pedestrian campus, but as the campus expanded east with the construction of Rolfs and the new Jordan Hall of Science, Juniper Road – and its busy traffic – separates parts of campus and threatens that pedestrian nature.

The University wants to close Juniper between Eddy Street and Douglas Road and re-route traffic by widening Ivy Road and building a new road. Proposals to close Juniper have been discussed before, but this newest effort differs in two ways. Not only is the University willing to pay for the cost of improving local roads so Juniper can be closed, but the University is being upfront with its neighbors about the proposal.

The University should be lauded for both of these steps. Explaining the University’s plans to neighbors at town hall meetings might be viewed as a waste of time by some, but community members’ suggestions have already been incorporated into the planning process, such as creating a new road near Ivy rather than expanding Ivy, which will mean no residents will lose their homes in the process. Residents used to Notre Dame’s historical disassociation from the community may be skeptical of the University’s plans, and some have feared that Notre Dame’s decision may mean that they will lose their homes. But involving community members in the process and incorporating their opinions, as Notre Dame has demonstrated it can do, means those affected by a Juniper closure will likely buy in to a final solution.

Notre Dame has several reasons for wanting Juniper closed. Because the University does not want to purchase additional land to expand, closing Juniper would allow the University to use that space for buildings. Two residence halls have been proposed in the space currently occupied by the road between Knott and Pasquerilla East Halls and the B2 and D2 parking lots. Safety is another concern on Juniper, for both pedestrians and automobiles. And these concerns will only increase in 2006 when the Jordan Hall of Science opens and even more classrooms and laboratories sit on the other side of the road. Before Juniper is closed, students should recognize that Notre Dame’s pedestrian campus does not extend to Juniper Road and cross the street carefully, both as a matter of safety and a gesture of goodwill to the residents who will be inconvenienced when the road closes.

Closing Juniper may inconvenience some South Bend residents, but it is the right decision for Notre Dame. University officials must continue to work with residents to communicate its plans in order to simultaneously minimize the impact of the closure and to be a good neighbor. Incorporating local opinion and offering to finance future road-building projects are steps in the right direction.