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University: close Juniper Road

Scott Brodfuehrer | Friday, January 16, 2004

The University has proposed closing Juniper Road and redirecting traffic to a widened Ivy Road or a new road near Ivy, which would most likely be financed by the University.While the safety of pedestrians crossing Juniper to reach campus buildings and parking lots is one reason for closing Juniper, University officials also say they want to maintain the relatively small, pedestrian nature of the campus.”It’s not just about safety; we want to keep campus small,” said University architect Doug Marsh. Officials say closing Juniper would allow a campus development boundary to be created, so that new buildings are constructed within the current footprint, rather than expanding the campus, which officials say they have no desire to do. The campus master plan calls for two new residence halls to be constructed on the area where Juniper currently passes between Knott and Pasquerilla East Halls and the B2 and D2 parking lots.Improving the traffic flow around campus is also a reason to close Juniper and improve other roads, officials say. The University says that 8,100 vehicles pass through part of Juniper each day, but estimates that less than 2,000 of them are through trips. Estimates show that an average trip on Juniper from Cleveland Road to the Five Points intersection currently takes 15 minutes. But estimates show that if no changes were made, in 2025 there would be 12,900 vehicles traveling on Juniper each day and an average trip would take 19.3 minutes.Director of Community Relations Jackie Rucker said that the University has made it a priority to share its plans for Juniper with the community, which has helped to alleviate fears and eliminate rumors.In December, the University unveiled plans to expand Ivy Road to four lanes at two public meetings. In one plan, called 4g, the road would still run between Edison and Douglas Roads. In a second plan, called 5g, the road would run between Edison but curve after passing through Bulla Road to reconnect with Juniper Road. These proposals were not popular with residents on Ivy Road who would lose their houses as a result of construction.Rucker said that the University is carefully considering feedback from community members, although some suggestions, such as building tunnels for pedestrians under Juniper, are not feasible.”Our goal is to be a good neighbor. We have to consider their feedback, but we have to be realistic, too,” Rucker said.On Wednesday night at a meeting at Darden Primary School, the University unveiled two new plans that would create a new road through property the University owns east of campus instead of taking homes, which County Commissioner Mark Dobson praised for being responsive to the concerns of community members.”From what I’ve seen and heard, I’m that much more impressed,” Dobson said.In both alternatives, Ivy Road would be disconnected from Douglas Road so it would not be used as a through street. Ivy Road would likely be increased to four lanes between Edison and Vanness Roads. At Vanness, the new road would split from Ivy, either connecting to Douglas Road (alternative 6) or connecting back to Juniper (alternative 7). Any plan to close Juniper and build new roads or expand existing ones requires the approval of the county council.While residents of Ivy Road were pleased to hear a new road would not require them to move, many other area residents still are not in favor of closing Juniper.Indian Lakes resident Carole Morehouse said she believes closing Juniper would increase her commute to work by at least 10 minutes if she took Cleveland Road to Main Street instead of using Juniper.”It’s the only North-South roadway we have,” Morehouse said.A concern echoed by many residents at the meeting was that students who do not obey crosswalk signals are the ones who cause safety problems on Juniper.”One of the things people are beginning to notice about Notre Dame students is that they think they can do anything because they are Notre Dame students … they need to be taking some responsibility,” Morehouse said.Other residents raised concerns about students crossing an improved Ivy Road from Turtle Creek to campus, saying that there are currently no crosswalks, and students dart in and out of traffic to cross the road. Marsh said a pedestrian crossing will be studied.”I don’t think we’re planning on a traffic signal just for pedestrians … We need to find a way to get a properly designated pedestrian crossover that [students] can’t even screw up,” Marsh said.In the next months, the University will continue to conduct traffic modeling and develop a draft layout of road improvements. Eventually, Notre Dame will bring its plans before the county council for approval, but Marsh said the University does not have a timeline in which it hopes to close Juniper.The University is also studying two other changes, in conjunction with county officials:u Straightening Edison south of campus so the road would curve through the tailgating fields rather than in front of the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts, allowing for a more attractive campus entry to be constructedu Connecting Ivy Road to Twyckenham Road, so that drivers would not have to turn onto Edison from Ivy, then SR 23, then Twyckenham