A proposal before the Missouri Students Association to close a campus section of Rollins Street might soon force student drivers to rethink their navigation strategies.
On Wednesday, MSA, led by President Brett Ordnung, will review legislation to approve blocking general vehicle traffic on Rollins from Hitt Street to Missouri Avenue between 8:15 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on weekdays.
Ordnung said that last summer, MU administrators asked for student support of the idea. Mark Lucas, interim director of student life at MU, said that for three years, administrators have talked about blocking the road.
Increased pedestrian traffic caused harder push by officials
An increase in the number of people walking through the area, primarily because of improvements at the Student Recreation Center, caused officials to push harder for the road closure.
“Just about everybody is in support of the move,” Lucas said.
Ordnung said he has spoken with many students and believes the student body supports blocking traffic from the street.
“At first some were hesitant,” Ordnung said, but most were swayed after he “discussed the safety benefits and that there was still access to Hitt Street.”
Final decision rests with City Council
The proposal before the MSA Senate would state that the student body supports the street’s closing. The final decision would rest on approval by the Columbia City Council. City officials have spoken with MU representatives.
“There has been some level of reluctance from the city,” Lucas said.
Mayor Darwin Hindman, a longtime supporter of pedestrian access in Columbia, said he likes the idea, although approval will depend on the details of the proposal the city receives.
“I think that every step toward making Mizzou a pedestrian campus is a good step,” Hindman said.
Ordnung said that if the city approves the road block, a test run would be initiated for one semester. Although Ordnung predicted the closing could happen as soon as the winter semester, Lucas said it was unlikely because construction at the recreation center is blocking Hitt Street. That project isn’t expected to be done until at least late fall 2004.
“If you close Rollins and don’t have Hitt Street going out to Hospital Drive ... cars can’t turn around, you have cars behind you – it’s a mess,” he said. “That’s why it cannot happen next semester.”
Lucas said January 2005 is a more reasonable estimate of when the road might be blocked.
MU students show mixed opinions
Meanwhile, MU students expressed mixed opinions about the proposal.
“I don’t think it would be a problem,” said Geoff Hill, a junior biology major who bikes to class.
Hill said he’s had no trouble navigating Rollins Street.
Steve Senger, a senior engineering major, thinks there are many pros and cons to a road block, but he thinks the existing crosswalk between Brady Commons and the recreation center works fine.
However, senior journalism major Jeremiah Tucker said the road block could cause trouble for motorists.
“It might turn out to be a hassle to get through.,” he said.