City adds stop signs

Kristin Marthaler

Kristin Marthaler

Students are going to see some changes on campus this year. Besides the student union getting face-lift, new stops signs were added to the corner of 8th Street and 16th Avenue in August.

Tim Heaton, University Police Department Chief, was the first one to recommend that additional stop signs be added to that intersection. Heaton “decided something needed to be done,” so he talked to the Parking and Traffic Committee. There were too many close calls and close run-ins to not do anything.

“This intersection needed major changes done to it,” Heaton said. “It is one of the busiest intersections on campus. When a major sporting event or even school event gets over the intersection that most of the motorists take is that one.”

The new residence hall will also add to traffic congestion, Heaton said.

Students normally are able to just walk across the street and the motorists are expected to stop, however at this intersection that rule does not seem to apply. There have been too many close calls that something needed to be done to ensure student safety.

Once the city council voted on having these additional signs added, everything was ready to go. But it took the city almost five months to put the signs up.

The city decided to wait to put up the stop signs until students were coming back to campus. There was not enough traffic this summer for that intersection to cause any problem. So they waited until the Thursday before school started to install the signs. That way when students showed up, the stop signs would already be put in place.

“It’s going to make it a lot safer, and a lot more convenient for students traveling across campus,” Heaton said. “It almost feels natural to stop at that intersection.”

The university and the city jointly maintain the intersection, said Jeff Miller, a lieutenant with the Brookings Police Department.

“A four-way stop is inherently safer than anything,” he said.

Even having a stoplight would not have solved the problem, Miller said. Motorists tend to drive through the stop light at the last moment possible making it still dangerous for the pedestrians. This way when someone is waiting to cross, the pedestrians know that everyone must stop at that four-way intersection.

“The north and southbound traffic was moving pretty quickly through that intersection,” said Mike Reger, Vice President of Administration.

When Heaton went to the Traffic and Safety Committee, he had to give out facts and suggest alternatives that there may be to improve a certain intersection.

Students need to know that there will not be any slack on giving out tickets for motorists who run through the stop signs, Heaton said. Students know the stop signs are now there and they are expected to stop.

“Once a stop sign has been put in place, the law is put into effect,” Reger said.