City aims to reduce accidents on Normal

By Galvin Kennedy

In order to curb the increasing number of pedestrian accidents along Normal Road, city officials are planning to remove parking spaces and construct barriers designed to keep students from crossing outside of crosswalks.

Ralph Tompkins, assistant director of public works for energy services, said that “five of the six pedestrian accidents in the last two years were related to street parking.”

At a preliminary discussion, Tompkins and other city officials initially had considered lowering the speedlimit on the road.

However, because parked cars were involved in so many of the accidents and “speeding” cars in only one, Tompkins said “reducing the speedlimit is unlikely.”

The closing of Carroll Avenue two years ago has apparently caused an increase in the amount of traffic and consequently the number of accidents on Normal Road, Tompkins said.

“Two years prior to the closing of Carroll Avenue, no (pedestrian) accidents were reported. However, in the two years since Carroll has been closed, six have been reported,” he said.

He specifically pointed to the Husky buses, which used to park on Carroll Avenue and now park on Normal Road in front of the Holmes Student Center, as the cause of one of the six pedestrian accidents.

A parked bus had apparently obstructed a drivers view and caused the driver to hit an unseen pedestrian, Tompkins said.

University Police Lt. Ronald Williams also cited the closing of Carroll Avenue as a reason for the increased number of pedestrian accidents on Normal Road.

Even after Carroll Avenue is back in working condition, the area on Normal Road will remain a no parking zone, Tompkins said.

The students lack of using the designated crosswalks and instead taking lengthy paths to cross Normal Road was cited as a reason for setting up barriers.

“As of now, setting up the barriers is in the preliminary stage, so financing from NIU as well as the city of DeKalb is undetermined,” Tompkins said.

Exactly what the barriers will look like also is undertermined, but Tompkins said they would be in agreement with the architecture of NIU.

The barriers will be built only in the high pedestrian traffic areas, Tompkins said.

Parking Division Manager Helen Nodurft, said, “I understand the city’s point of view, but we as the university have no jurisdiction over the area.”