The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday March 25th

UNC to bridge foot traffic?

Student Body President Jasmin Jones questions cost, practicality

DTH/Anna Carrington and Christine Hellinger
Buy Photos DTH/Anna Carrington and Christine Hellinger

Student Body President Jasmin Jones’ administration is at odds with the Board of Trustees over a plan to construct a pedestrian bridge across South Road.

Her administration has cited concerns over the bridge’s cost, practicality, appearance and effect on pedestrian safety. She has tasked a student government committee to gather student opinion and explore the idea more.

Jones’ opposition began this summer with her vote against the approval of the site during a Board of Trustees meeting.

The bridge would span from the southwest corner of the Student Recreation Center to the section of the Pit between Student Stores and the Undergraduate Library.

The board approved the site without Jones’ consent. The design has not yet received approval.

Student Body Vice President David Bevevino said he is concerned about the project’s cost.

“That’s a pretty hefty expenditure,” he said, referring to the estimated $8 million price tag.

Jones said she wants to make sure that the bridge is the best option before committing to the plan.

“I just want to make sure that the bridge is the one and only option that can make South Road safe, but in order to make that kind of decision, I would need to see what options were there,” she said.

Bevevino said he is concerned that the bridge might be underused, citing the crosswalk in front of Student Stores and another in front of the Bell Tower.

“We want to make sure that that’s where the $8 million should go,” he said.

Bevevino said the bridge might make South Road more dangerous for pedestrians.

“We want to make sure that people crossing on the street are safe,” he said. “Are they safer or are they more at risk because the cars will be moving more easily?”

But Bob Winston III, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said the bridge would make South Road safer, especially with the high volume of foot traffic.

“South Road is a very busy dangerous road for pedestrians. The bridge is integral to connecting the two parts of campus over South Road,” he said. “The amount of pedestrian traffic stops vehicle traffic.”

Bevevino said he had reservations about the proposed design of the bridge, which was shown in a July report to the Board of Trustees.

The concept design drawing shows a suspension bridge with a single mast on the south side of the road supporting the curved path.

“There are some concerns that the mast of the bridge might impede the view of the Bell Tower,” he said. “We have to make sure it fits with campus and looks like it belongs there.”

The design, he said, must not obstruct access to the service entrance between Student Stores and the Undergraduate Library.

The Capital Projects task force, a student government group originally intended to give students a voice in the Carolina North project, has recently begun to examine the pedestrian bridge.

The task force will begin gathering students’ opinions in the next couple of weeks.

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