ODU Walks the Walk on Safety

By: Sher-Nae Earls

Safety has been an issue for years surrounding the Old Dominion University campus.  While many students and faculty think of crime when it comes to safety, students also face dangers when crossing fast-moving traffic on Hampton Boulevard and surrounding streets.

Across campus located near the parking garages are signs along with crosswalk indicators to caution drivers to yield to pedestrians.

Across campus located near the parking garages are signs along with crosswalk indicators to caution drivers to yield to pedestrians.

During spring break, new crosswalk safety beacons and flashing lights were installed in three locations. “The Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) are yellow lights that automatically flash on both sides of the crosswalk when a pedestrian enters, setting off sensors at crosswalks like 49th and Bluestone, which is the busiest crosswalk on campus,” said Scott Silsdorf, Director of Transportation and Parking Services. Silsdorf is new to the Department of Transportations and Parking Services. Since June 2013 he has been collaborating with the City of Norfolk on studying pedestrian safety issues.

The beacons will make students more visible, especially during bad weather and at night. “It’s hard to see on some of the streets at night and even with your lights on, if a student is wearing all black it’s easy to miss them crossing the street” said Afzana Grady, an Old Dominion University Senior, who was thrilled with the updated crosswalk.  Grady is an on campus resident, but drives her car around campus frequently.

The crosswalks were installed at 49th Street and the Visual Arts Building, 49th Street and Bluestone Avenue; and Powhatan Avenue and the Maglev track.  The new crosswalk enhancements are just the beginning for the Department of Transportation and Parking Services here at Old Dominion University.

A pedestrian waits on the sidewalk for clear traffic to safely cross the congested intersection of 49th and Bluestone.

A pedestrian waits on the sidewalk for clear traffic to safely cross the congested intersection of 49th and Bluestone.

In early April a new crosswalk with flashing lights and detectors will be installed at 48th Street and Powhatan Avenue, a street that connects campus and many student residencies. Along with that there are more crosswalks anticipated down Powhatan Avenue and around 43rd street. Old Dominion Universities Department of Transportation and Parking Services hopes that this change will help improve the safety of students around campus.