by Tyler New
I have many interests, but wasting time and being late to class are not among them. Despite the fact that my interests lie elsewhere, I always seem to waste time when I cross Osler Drive. I wait for permission to cross the road with a bevy of impatient Towson students, some of whom are brazen enough to run across during lulls in traffic. My goodness, I think to myself while waiting, if only there wasn’t so much traffic, and only if there was a bridge over this road!
Well, it almost appears as if Towson’s powers above read my mind! A pedestrian bridge over Osler Drive should be ready by the start of the 2014 fall term. The 23 foot wide, 120 foot long bridge will provide safe crossing for over 3,000 students, in addition to faculty, staff and visitors. I am personally grateful, as one of these 3,000 students, that both my time will be saved and my health will not be at risk—the chances of playing Frogger on Osler Drive are now slim to none. I am also grateful that my fellow Tigers will not engage in such activities, seeing as over 11,000 pedestrian trips are taken across Osler per day.
But this bridge is not an outstanding project on its own; Phase II of Campus Site, Infrastructure and Safety Improvements includes two other major projects.
I wrote several months ago about A&F’s intention to renovate Smith Hall, focusing on the particulars of the project: its environmental friendliness, the size of its expansion and the funding required. What I did not discuss was the effect this expansion would have on pedestrian traffic.
Likewise, I can now discuss the particulars of the plan to build a new rec field to the right of the new Osler bridge, but this project, too, is only a piece to the master plan. The important variable now is pedestrian flow around campus. TU’s campus is constantly changing, and it is important that members of its community be able to walk around safely.
This safety does not only mean eliminating cars from the equation; it means avoiding pedestrian crowding as well. An article in The Economist notes the importance of avoiding congestion: “the trick is to ensure that serious crowding is avoided in the first place. From big events such as the London Olympics to the design of new railway stations, engineering firms now routinely simulate the movement of people to try to spot areas where crowding is likely to occur…There should be many fewer crowd disasters given what we now know and can simulate.”
Bearing this importance in mind, TU is not only constructing a new bridge; it is also building a pedestrian walkway from the southeastern end of Linthicum Hall east along Cook Library to Newell Hall. This construction involves the demolition of the concrete bridge between Newell Dining Hall and Cook Library and necessary storm water management improvements.
As an English major, I tend to look for symbolism everywhere I go and with everything I encounter. That being said, I feel that Towson University’s physical improvements and planning represent its members’ dedication to the school slogan; TU employees aim to “Restore the Roar” while “Thinking Outside.” Not only are fine, eco-friendly buildings built, but smaller amenities also supplement them.
Towson has taken yet another step towards a brighter tomorrow, and I am proud to walk as a Tiger—especially when it involves not playing real-life Frogger.