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Light planned for south campus

CHRYSTAL McCONNELL/Arizona Daily Wildcat
The intersection of North Park Avenue and East Sixth Street will be home to a new stoplight come January 2004. Currently, traffic is only allowed to make right-hand turns onto East Sixth Street as indicated by this long exposure.
By Nathan Tafoya
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday October 1, 2003

Sixth and Park to get traffic light

After completion of a long-awaited turn signal at North Park Avenue and East Speedway Boulevard, the UA has decided to turn its attention to the southern end of Park.

By early next year, the UA plans to install a traffic signal at the intersection of North Park Avenue and East Sixth Street.

The traffic signal is intended to improve pedestrian safety and to discourage drivers from cutting across the parking lots of nearby businesses, said Melissa Dryden, program coordinator for facilities design and construction.

The light will not allow east and westbound drivers to turn south onto North Park Avenue because neighbors asked that traffic not be funneled through the residential area, Dryden said.

Right now drivers heading southbound on North Park Avenue cannot turn left onto Sixth Street. But, once the light is installed, they will be able to make both left and right hand turns onto East Sixth Street, Dryden said.

In addition to the traffic light, the UA will change the crosswalk at North Freemont Avenue and East Sixth Street to ease traffic congestion.

Although it already has a light that stops traffic to let pedestrians cross the street, the crosswalk at North Fremont Avenue and East Sixth Street will be converted into a pelican crossing, similar to the one at University Medical Center and North Campbell Avenue.

With a pelican crossing, triggering the crossing signal only stops the traffic nearest the pedestrian. The pedestrian then has to walk to the island in the middle of the road and trigger the crossing signal again to proceed to the opposite side of the street.

The alteration is necessary in order to facilitate a steady flow of east and westbound traffic, which will be broken up by the light at North Park Avenue and East Sixth Street, Dryden said.

Money collected from permits, citations and visitor parking that funds the Sixth Street parking garage will also fund the approximately $300,000 needed for the light's installation.

"There's no question a light has been needed at Park and Sixth Street for some time," said Richard Berger, owner of U of A Liquors on the southeast corner of the intersection.

Bryan Benz, who owns Jett's Wildcat Petrol at the intersection, said it's about time the light was installed.

"It amazes me we haven't had an accident," Benz said, recalling the amount of drivers who have illegally cut across the gas station's parking lot.

Benz said he receives a lot of complaints from customers because drivers do not stop or slow down when they cut across the parking lot of his business in order to avoid the cement, triangular island at the intersection.

The triangular island is designed to prevent drivers from turning left to head north on North Park Avenue or east on East Sixth Street.

"The light would help any business, from a safety standpoint," Benz said.

Pre-nursing sophomore Rachel Ogundiji said the light could back up traffic during rush hour, but admitted it could also be a good move.

"It saves a lot of time, personally, for me," said Ogundiji, who frequently turns eastbound onto East Sixth Street from North Park Avenue. She said she has cut across the gas station's parking lot in order to avoid the island.

But not everyone agrees that the light is a good idea.

Tristan Ludwig, an economics senior, said he did not think the light was worth the hassle it would create.

"I don't think it's very important at all," he said. "Actually, I think it's going to slow traffic here in the morning."

Ludwig said he and his friends had no complaints about using East Sixth Street and North Park Avenue in order to get where they needed to go.

"It's imperative there's no lights here," said Ludwig. "The less lights, the better."

Dryden said installation will not begin until January because the UA is waiting for the city to review its proposed changes to the intersection.

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