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Brandeis, Waltham officials explore ways to improve safety of crosswalk where 3 students were struck

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  February 11, 2014 02:53 PM

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Brandeis University and Waltham city officials said they are discussing ways to improve the safety of a busy crosswalk where three students were hit by a car last week.

“We have initiated meetings with the City of Waltham and are poised to move quickly in conjunction with recommendations from the city's traffic commissioner,” said a statement from university spokeswoman Ellen de Graffenreid.

Both campus and city officials declined to comment on what measures might be considered for the crosswalk on South Street, a city-controlled roadway that cuts through Brandeis’ campus.

“Obviously the [traffic] commissioner, [Police Chief Keith MacPherson], wants us to do everything we can do to make sure this area is as safe as possible,” said Waltham traffic commission clerk Frank Lombardo.

Brandeis student newspaper The Justice first reported Tuesday that campus and city officials were exploring ways to make the crosswalk safer.

On Sunday, Feb. 2, at about 6:25 p.m., three undergraduates were walking east in the crosswalk when they were struck by a car traveling north and driven by a 42-year-old man from Belmont, authorities have said.

The students were hospitalized with serious injuries, but were listed in stable condition later that night. A spokeswoman for the Middlesex district attorney’s office said this week that the matter remains under investigation.

A day after the incident, police and students told the Globe that the crosswalk presents dangers for both pedestrians and drivers.

Neon yellow signs warn drivers in either direction to be cautious when approaching crosswalk, and pedestrians can push a button to activate flashing yellow lights before they cross.

But the crosswalk sits at the crest of a hill, and the street bends several times as it cuts through the university campus, reducing sight lines and reaction times for drivers and pedestrians.

Students can cross over South Street by using a pedestrian bridge a short distance away. But some students said the bridge can be inconvenient and a bit out of the way, depending on where they are coming from and going to on campus.

One student suggested that the yellow flashing lights at the crosswalk should be converted into a standard traffic light with a button pedestrians can press to make the signal turn red and that better signs or other measures should be installed to give drivers more warning before they reach the crosswalk.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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