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The Daily Tar Heel

Hinton James Fence to Reroute Students

Construction on South Campus has obstructed the path to the crosswalk on Manning Drive, prompting officials to set up a fence to encourage pedestrian safety.

But many students say the fence that is intended to reroute their path will not stop them from crossing Manning Drive where there is no crosswalk.

Within the next two days, a fence will be erected along Manning Drive, blocking access from Hinton James to the road, forcing pedestrians to take a different path.

The fence, which could be up for as long as six months, will run along the sidewalk from the stoplight at the intersection of Manning Drive and Skipper Bowles Drive down to Hinton James Drive, the driveway leading into the Hinton James parking lot.

The current fence begins at the intersection, travels along Manning Drive and stops at the temporary walkway leading from Hinton James to Manning Drive.

Larry Hicks, associate director for the Department of University Housing, said fencing is necessary because current fencing forces students to jaywalk across Manning Drive.

"As soon as you identify the (pedestrian) risk, you have to move - good, bad or indifferent - to minimize the risk," he said.

Hicks also said the new fencing would not be necessary if a new crosswalk were created, which the housing department requested.

But the N.C. Department of Transportation denied the request because of the close proximity to crosswalks located at the intersection.

To reach a campus U-bus stop, residents will need to go down Hinton James' back stairs to the existing bus stop on Skipper Bowles Drive. Derek Poarch, director of the Department of Public Safety, said a reverse U-bus stop will be created on Smith Center Road, the road that connects Skipper Bowles Drive to the Hinton James parking lot.

But he said there is no timetable for the implementation of the new bus stop. Until it is in place, Poarch said students wishing to ride the reverse U-bus should walk down the back steps to Skipper Bowles Drive and then up the hill and across Manning at the stoplight.

Poarch said students walking to class should follow the same path for safety. But several Hinton James residents expressed doubt that this will happen.

Ashly Tomlinson, a sophomore anthropology major, said students will walk down the Hinton James driveway and cross Manning Drive, where there is no crosswalk, and then walk back up the road. "There is no way I'm walking behind Hinton James," Tomlinson said. "I think (students) are going to walk the same way and stop traffic."

Other residents said they are unhappy with the change. "Hinton James is a far walk from main campus as it is, and adding the fence is just going to make the walk a lot worse," said Tiffany Gillan, a freshman international studies major.

She also said students would continue to cross Manning Drive where there is no crosswalk. "They're making it dangerous for those of us that do walk to class," Gillan said.

But Hicks said students need to be patient.

"We're just trying to make the best of a very bad situation," he said. "I'm hopeful that the residents will recognize that we're doing all we can in terms of safety and liability issues."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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