Tickets increase as peds shirk campus stoplights

Police are cracking down on jaywalking as campus prepares for the light rail.

Pedestrians cross Washington Ave in the Stadium Village area Friday night. The University Police Department is increasing the number of citations given to pedestrians disobeying traffic signals.

Erin Westover

Pedestrians cross Washington Ave in the Stadium Village area Friday night. The University Police Department is increasing the number of citations given to pedestrians disobeying traffic signals.

John Hageman

The Central Corridor light-rail line is going to change how commuters get to and from campus, and students trekking to class are being forced to adjust to the imminent changes in the flow of traffic.
In preparation for construction and the permanent closure of a large section of Washington Avenue to vehicle traffic, the University of Minnesota added new stoplights at intersections around campus.
But some pedestrians have ignored the new signals, resulting in ramped up enforcement efforts by University police.
The crosswalks along Harvard Street, including the new ones near the superblock and Scholars Walk, have been especially problematic, University police Lt. Troy Buhta said.
University police have handed out more than 120 citations for jaywalking and ignoring traffic signals at these intersections in the past two weeks, significantly more than normal, Buhta said. He added that officers began warning people who were walking against traffic signals for three weeks before they began handing out citations.
âÄúThose two new intersections are new âĦ so old habits die hard,âÄù Buhta said.
Once construction begins on Washington Avenue, traffic is expected to increase significantly on Harvard Street as well as other streets running through the heart of campus.
In the fall, a new traffic signal will be added at the intersection of Pleasant Street and Pillsbury Drive in the Knoll Area. The roundabout at that intersection will also be eliminated to make traffic flow easier, said Sandy Cullen, the light-rail project manager for Parking and Transportation Services.
Cullen said that the number of buses going through that area is expected to triple once Metro Transit bus routes 2, 16 and 50 are rerouted, making it necessary to add another traffic signal. She said 60 pedestrians cross Pleasant Street every minute.
âÄúSo if you have more buses and you have more pedestrians, thereâÄôs going to be no openings for traffic to get through like it does today,âÄù Cullen said.