Paine College seeks to close part of Druid Park Avenue for student safety

Paine College wants to close the well-traveled section of Druid Park Avenue that goes through its campus.

A busy section of road though Paine College will be closed to vehicle traffic, if school officials get their way.

The college is asking the Augusta Commission to close a 0.2-mile stretch of Druid Park Avenue from Central Avenue to Laney Walker Boulevard.

The request is primarily for student safety, Paine Vice President of Institutional Development Brandon Brown said.

Rather than slow as they approach the crosswalk on Druid Park near the Laney Walker intersection, “a lot of vehicles accelerate at high speeds” as the road turns from two lanes to four.

“We’ve had students in the past hit,” he said.

The situation evokes a recent community debate about closing a busy nearby section of Laney-Walker that passes through Georgia Health Sciences University.

When residents east of the medical college complained, GHSU announced last week plans to instead reconfigure the road from four lanes to two.

City traffic engineer Steve Cassell estimated the section of Druid Park through Paine carries as many as 8,000 vehicles daily, but said he was still assembling data.

He’ll present a report to Augusta’s engineering services committee Monday.

Students frequently cross Druid Park as Paine has well-used facilities on either side of the road, and as construction of the college’s new HEAL Complex nears completion, “we only see that as continuing,” Brown said.

Paine’s 2009 campus master plan noted that the “ring roads” of Laney-Walker Boulevard, Central Avenue and Druid Park, while making the campus highly accessible, actually restrict unimpeded pedestrian traffic.

It also called Druid Park “a significant hindrance to the development of a pedestrian campus.”

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Sat, 12/03/2016 - 00:51

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