May 10, 2012

Lincoln Drive improvements begin next week

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Work will begin next week to repave two sections of Lincoln Drive -- the primary traffic artery on Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s campus.

In an effort to increase pedestrian safety and reduce traffic speed along one of the repaved sections, workers will also install two decorative concrete islands on each side of the crosswalk between the Engineering Building and the James W. Neckers Building.

One project is a section of road from Physical Plant Drive to Point Drive, which is the entrance to Thompson Point, said Phil Gatton, director of Plant and Service Operations.

A second project will replace an approximately 850-foot section of Lincoln Drive that starts near Wham Drive and runs to the intersection with Poplar Street, and includes the area in front of the Northwest Annex.

Both projects will take about four weeks, Gatton said.

The road will remain open, although traffic might be down to one lane at times, Gatton said.  Flag crews will be present to control traffic during the work. While there might be a few delays, Gatton does not see a need for motorists to seek alternate routes.

“They just need to recognize there might be times when they will be delayed,” he said.  “We want to make sure that everybody is exercising caution.  The roads will still be open but there will be times there will be construction activity moving equipment in and out.”

On the section near the Engineering Building, during the first week crews will repair and rebuild storm drains, he said.  The second week will focus on repairing or replacing 10 to 15 percent of the curbs, and installing the decorative concrete islands.  The final two weeks will involve replacing bad sections of road and installing two new inches of road surface.

Reducing Lincoln Drive’s overall width from 40 feet to about 24 feet will leave about 12 feet for each direction of traffic, and hopefully reduce traffic speed, Gatton said.  He believes the raised plant beds on each side of the crosswalk will remind motorists to slow down.  The speed limit on campus is 20 mph.  The decorative plant beds will not obstruct motorists’ visions, he said.

“We’re trying to get traffic to slow down especially where we have a lot of crosswalks,” he said.   “This is our first phase and we are going to see how this works.”

Installing the islands is another technique the University utilizes in working to reduce traffic speeds.  Other methods include the use of rumble strips and speed radar signs that also serve as safety reminders.

The resurfacing is part of a four- to five-year plan to repave Lincoln Drive, Gatton said.

The project cost estimate is approximately $497,000.  Project funds come from the SIU Carbondale Parking Division and Parking Facilities Replacement and Reserve Fund. 

A map showing the areas of construction is available here.