Richland Avenue Traffic and Pedestrians

Traffic backs up on Richland Avenue as pedestrians cross the street. This crosswalk could be the site of a new pedestrian tunnel below the street.

The city of Athens, in collaboration with Ohio University, will begin construction of the Richland Avenue Pedestrian Crossing project in early March, according to a news release from OU.

The project will require the closure of the popular access street into uptown Athens for several months.

For many years, the release said, both the city and university have received requests to improve safety and congestion issues at the existing crosswalk in the vicinity of Grover Center and Porter Hall, across from OU’s West Green.

The Richland Avenue Pedestrian Crossing project is intended to separate pedestrians from vehicle traffic by elevating the roadway and creating a passageway underneath it for pedestrians, according to the release. The new pedestrian passageway will be wide, well-lighted, and constructed at the same elevation as the existing crosswalk, the release said.

“By elevating the roadway for the new passageway between West Green and South Green, pedestrians – including students, staff and faculty – will be able to move safely and independently from the vehicles on the roadway,” OU Chief Facilities Officer Steve Wood said. “This project will not only help with traffic congestion, but it will address the campus’ number one safety concern as well.”

Construction of the new pedestrian crossing and raised roadway will require the city to close both lanes of traffic on Richland Avenue between West Green Drive and Bobcat Lane beginning in March, the release said. The project is expected to be complete in September 2020, though the pedestrian walkway is expected to be open in early August, and Richland is expected to be open to traffic by the end of August.

During this time, the release said, the intersection of Richland Avenue and Bobcat Lane will remain open with temporary limitations. Traffic from Bobcat Lane can turn right onto Richland, and southbound traffic on Richland can turn left into Bobcat Lane. Additionally, the existing crosswalk will be closed to all pedestrians for the duration of the project. 

“The City of Athens and Ohio University have worked together collaboratively to establish vehicular and pedestrian detour plans to help route members of the community and visitors around the construction work safely,” Wood said in the release. “Transportation and Parking Services, in cooperation with Design and Construction, have been collaborating those plans with major campus stakeholders who will be directly impacted by the project.”

There is also a project website provided by Transportation and Parking Services to help communicate, the release said. This page will provide construction updates, road updates and detour directions for colleges and departments to utilize throughout the closure.

Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to visit the website for more information and to reach out to Transportation and Parking Services for more information.

University community members who have specific questions about the project are encouraged to contact the City of Athens Engineering and Public Works Department by emailing epwsupport@ci.athens.oh.us or calling 740-593-7636.

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