MARIETTA - Getting from one side of the street to the other can be a dicey experience for Marietta College students who have to use mid-block crosswalks to cross Fourth and Butler streets on the college campus.
The city and college recently worked together to install high-visibility signage on the sides and in the center of both roads to warn drivers when they're approaching the mid-block crossings.
"It helps, but you still have to be pretty wary before stepping out into the street. One girl was struck while crossing Fourth Street this year," said college sophomore Jason Long.
A student steps into the mid-block crosswalk on Fourth Street adjacent to the Marietta College campus. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
Freshman Briana Kelley said the Butler Street crossing, located just below the crest of a hill between the Dyson Baudo Recreation Center and Dorothy Webster Hall, can be especially dangerous. Students are constantly crossing the street from the main campus to the dormitories and back again.
"We can't see oncoming cars, and they have a hard time seeing us," she said. "And sometimes drivers stop when we're crossing the street, but sometimes they don't. I've had some close calls. Sometimes you just have to run across."
Campus Police Chief Tom Saccenti said there was a push to install more visible pedestrian crossing signage after a couple of accidents this year.
"During the first two months we had two accidents on Fourth Street," he said. "A student was struck while crossing the street, and a professor's vehicle was rear-ended when he stopped for a pedestrian in the crosswalk."
The student was not seriously injured, but Saccenti said it was clear something had to be done to help prevent such accidents.
After visiting some other campuses in similar cities, Saccenti said it was decided to install the "yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk" markers in the center of the roadways at the mid-block crossings, as well as universal pedestrian crossing signs on each side of the street, alerting drivers that a crosswalk is just ahead.
Recommended sign locations
A mid-block crossing safety review for the city of Marietta provides recommendations for safety upgrades at 11 locations, including the following crossings:
The Butler Street signs went up on Wednesday, and the Fourth Street crossing signs were put up just before homecoming weekend in October.
"We're doing this, not just for the drivers, but for students, too," Saccenti said. "We want to highlight the locations of the crosswalks and encourage students to cross the streets at those locations."
He noted state law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk.
"Once they step into the crosswalk, pedestrians always have the right of way," Saccenti said, noting that failure to stop is a chargeable traffic violation offense.
Marietta city engineer Joe Tucker said the campus crossings on Fourth and Butler streets are among several city mid-block crossings identified as areas of concern in a recent mid-block crossing safety review conducted by TEC Engineering Inc.