The Richland Avenue crosswalk was recognized earlier this year for its excellence in securing the Ohio University campus by the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC). ACEC presented the engineering firm of Burgess & Nipleas well as the city of Athens and the University of Ohio, with a Engineering Excellence award for the project.
The crosswalk, completed in the fall of 2020, raised Richland Avenue so that pedestrians could walk safely below the roadway in a well-lit and wide walkway. The passage connects West Green and South Green of Ohio University.
Previously, pedestrians used the Richland Avenue crosswalk at this location to move between the greens. Studies have shown that 6,500 pedestrians cross this busy section of the road each day, with nearly 600 pedestrians crossing at peak times.
The number of pedestrians crossing in this section of the road created safety concerns and also traffic jams that would slow down traffic on Richland Avenue.
“The award recognizes that this was an innovative solution to a long-term problem,” said Andy Strone, director of security for Athens Municipal Services. “That’s been a problem for as long as I’ve worked for the city and for decades before that. We had a great partnership with Ohio University. The University owned land that was needed for the pedestrian walkway and also provided some of the funding to support the project.
Burgess & Niple created an innovative design for the catwalk, Stone added.
“It’s something everyone can be proud of,” he said. The walkway even has the city and university seals on the walls to show proof of the partnership.
Shawna Wolfe, associate vice president for university planning at Ohio University, said university and city officials worked together for several years on the planning and construction of the project. The pedestrian walkway is much safer and is used regularly by students, faculty, and staff, as well as area residents and campus visitors.
“I see it in great use every time I’m on campus,” Wolfe said. “The pedestrian walkway is also very visually appealing, especially with the lighting and the wide view of the campus greens. Often when I walk through this area, I see people taking pictures.”
She was thrilled that the project received such recognition from the American Council of Engineering Companies and is grateful to the city for its work to receive a grant and investment from Ohio University which has made the project possible.
Stone said city officials were also grateful for the recognition. Many City and University staff participated in the work of the project. Deputy City Engineer Jessica Adine played a key role as project manager, Stone added.
“This is just one more example of the city and the University working together to solve a common problem,” Stone said. “The partnership with Ohio University, in my opinion, is better than ever.”