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New Roadway to Central Campus

Opening of Northwestern Place marks first phase in project to build safer gateway

December 5, 2011
Central campus lot

Construction has made the intersection of Sheridan Road and the new Northwestern Place a safer gateway to campus.

The first phase of construction is complete on a major project that eventually will provide state-of-the-art traffic lights at a redesigned intersection on Sheridan Road between Foster Avenue and Noyes Street, at the entrance to the central campus parking lot on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus.

A new two-lane road called Northwestern Place now runs east-west through the parking lot between Swift Hall/CRESAP and Garrett Theological Seminary. The road provides a safer and more identifiable gateway to the center of campus.

“Both pedestrians and drivers face challenges in this highly congested area,” said Eugene Sunshine, senior vice president for business and finance. “For several years, we have been working closely with the City of Evanston and neighbors to develop an appropriate plan. Our primary concern is everyone’s safety.”

The new road will be called “Northwestern Place” on all official University signage and maps.

Phase One: New Lot Configuration

In the new layout, the parking lot and the fire lane/service drive to Lunt Hall and the Jacobs Center have been reconfigured to accommodate emergency vehicles. The driveway north of Swift Hall/CRESAP has been realigned to create a straight line of sight from Sheridan Road toward Lake Michigan. New pedestrian routes have been designed for clear and safe crossing points across Northwestern Place.

New energy-efficient lighting has been installed to provide heightened security in the parking lot and along the new walkways. New blue light emergency phones and closed-circuit television cameras also were installed as part of the project. Upgraded bicycle racks have been installed around the lot, and extensive landscaping will be done in spring.

Phase Two: Traffic Lights

The second phase of the project will begin after Commencement when new traffic lights are installed at the intersection of Sheridan Road and Northwestern Place. This phase is scheduled for completion by the start of the fall quarter.

The University will purchase and install the traffic lights and give them to the City of Evanston. The city then will own and maintain them. After the traffic lights are installed next summer, Evanston will synchronize all stoplights on Sheridan Road from Chicago Avenue to Central Street to provide smoother and safer traffic flow.

A car moving north from Chicago Avenue, for example, and traveling the speed limit (30 mph) will hit all green lights. A car traveling above the speed limit will hit red lights. This upgrade will improve safety and fuel efficiency and reduce pollution, goals jointly shared by Evanston and Northwestern.

The work follows studies from both the University and the city showing the dangerous area meets specific state and federal guidelines for new traffic lights. Northwestern is assisting the City of Evanston by hiring engineers to design and oversee the construction of this new intersection.

The intersection will feature LCD traffic lights, meet requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and include a painted crosswalk across Sheridan Road on the north side of the intersection. Using infrared technology, the traffic signals will be able to detect the presence of pedestrians. The lights also will have buttons for pedestrians to indicate they want to cross. The lights will have an audible message that tells pedestrians when it is safe to cross as well as a countdown for time allowed to cross.

Topics: University News