WSAZ Investigates | Traffic Around Marshall University

Speed limit reduced around MU’s campus following deadly accident involving pedestrian
WSAZ Investigates | Traffic Around Marshall University
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 9:32 AM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - After a deadly accident involving a pedestrian near Marshall University’s campus, the University and leaders with the city of Huntington are making changes to enhance pedestrian and student safety.

West Virginia Department of Transportation Secretary Jimmy Wriston has issued a temporary order reducing the speed limit to 25 mph from 35 mph on 3rd and 5th Avenues between 6th and 20th Streets. Speed limit signage modifications in the affected areas will begin this week.

“The speed limit change is temporary until a permanent solution is rendered. So, we’re waiting for the Department of Transportation to finish the road safety audit, come back with a recommendation, and then implement those recommendations, which may take a while,” said Robert Plymale, co-chair of the university’s pedestrian safety task force.

While the university waits for more answers from the the road safety audit, these changes are geared to help improve safety in the meantime.

The city of Huntington has also completed a new crosswalk on 20th Street between 3rd and 5th avenues.

“I work at the rec center, so I cross this street a lot and there have been times when people are not paying attention and driving right through. I think this has helped a lot to slow people down and let the pedestrians cross,” said Kendall Ferrebee, a Marshall University student.

Leaders say the enhancement will make it safer for pedestrians to access the Marshall University Recreation Center or Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

The City of Huntington’s Public Works and Planning and Development departments coordinated with Marshall’s administrators, public safety officials and the Marshall University Recreation Center to build the 20th Street crosswalk with a median that includes a safe area for pedestrians to stand while crossing the roadway.

Pedestrian push buttons on each side of the crosswalk trigger beacon lights that flash when the buttons are pressed to alert motorists in both lanes of traffic that pedestrians are preparing to enter the crosswalk. The crosswalk also includes signage alerting motorists to yield to pedestrians.

In November of 2021, a Marshall University student was hit and killed by an SUV crossing 3rd Avenue at the 18th Street intersection.

Marshall student hit and killed by SUV near campus

Marshall University formed a Pedestrian Safety Task Force that began meeting in January. In late winter, the task force recommended two items to Smith – reduce the speed limit around campus and deploy a public awareness campaign for pedestrian safety.

This fall, the university will implement a pedestrian safety awareness campaign targeting students and employees. The campaign will align with other similar initiatives at universities across the country and will also include information from the West Virginia Department of Transportation. In addition to traditional public awareness strategies like posters and public service announcements, every faculty member will be asked to discuss pedestrian safety in their classrooms during the first days of classes, complete with materials provided by the university.

“Marshall University President Brad D. Smith and I share the same vision of enhancing safety surrounding Marshall’s Huntington campus in every regard,” Huntington Mayor Steve Williams said. “I am pleased to see that the West Virginia Division of Highways has ordered a temporary speed reduction on 3rd and 5th Avenues as it continues to analyze potential long-term solutions in its traffic safety audit. The Huntington and Marshall University police departments will work collectively to enforce this new speed limit in the affected areas, and my administration will take proactive measures to alert the public to this change.”

“We are pleased to be part of the multi-disciplinary team to review highway safety around the Marshall University campus area of Huntington,” said Cindy Cramer, PE, with the West Virginia Department of Highways, Traffic Engineering Division. “The best solutions are derived from a comprehensive approach with all partners working together from the various perspectives of engineering, education, and enforcement. The Division of Highways is committed to implementing countermeasures that will improve overall safety for all users.”

“The safety of our students, faculty and staff is Marshall’s highest priority and I am encouraged with the news of the speed reduction around campus,” Smith said. “As we wait for the traffic safety audit to be completed, this temporary speed reduction, the new crosswalk on 20th Street and our upcoming educational campaign on campus will add tools for keeping everyone as safe as possible.”

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