Work is underway on several projects designed to improve pedestrian crossings on streets surrounding McNeese State University. Last week McNeese hosted a meeting for representatives from the city of Lake Charles and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to hear the concerns of McNeese students and administrators and to discuss possible options.
"It was a very productive meeting and numerous ideas were discussed," Dr. Philip Williams, McNeese president, said. "I am encouraged by the spirit of cooperation and sincerity of the city and state officials to help us create safer paths of travel to campus."
Among the options discussed were lowering the speed limit on streets surrounding the McNeese campus, enforcement of traffic regulations, improving crosswalks with additional signage or a combination of signage and flashing lights, re-striping current crosswalks, extending the sidewalk on McNeese Street in front of the McNeese Alumni Center to Common Street, and creating pedestrian islands on McNeese Street.
Input and cooperation from both city and state officials are necessary because Sale Road and portions of McNeese Street are under the jurisdiction of the city of Lake Charles, while Common and Ryan streets and a portion of McNeese street are under the jurisdiction of the Louisiana DOTD, Williams explained.
"We understand that traffic engineering standards and regulations must be used
to designate appropriate crosswalks," Williams said, "and we understand that we must work to educate our students about pedestrian safety."
City and state officials agreed to initiate plans to evaluate the signals at McNeese and Common streets, study the impact of reducing the speed limits around the McNeese campus and extend the sidewalk along McNeese Street. Williams said McNeese would ask the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office to assist McNeese police in enforcing traffic regulations, especially during peak pedestrian traffic hours.
McNeese Student Government Association President Jonathon Rutherford said the student senate had appropriated funds to begin work on an education plan for students.
Both Williams and Rutherford told the officials that the university and the students are ready to assist with costs incurred to improve crosswalks to the McNeese campus.
"Improving student safety is a priority and a continuous process," Cinnamon Salvador, director of McNeese police, said. "Traffic around the campus has increased over the years and the enrollment at McNeese has grown. City and state officials and local law enforcement agencies are cooperating to identify and implement reasonable solutions that work for both motorists and pedestrians."
Earlier this month a McNeese freshman was struck on McNeese Street while walking to campus. She later died from her injuries.