Additional parking; Safety improvements greet OU students coming back to campus

Additional parking; Safety improvements greet OU students coming back to campus
This map shows some of the new parking spaces added over the summer.

Students, faculty, staff and visitors returning to campus for the fall 2017 term are doing so with the advantage of numerous safety and convenience improvements to University infrastructure.


Over the summer months, work was completed to upgrade and expand exterior lighting, increase parking capacity, and improve vehicle traffic flow during peak travel times.


Safety of all campus community members is considered the overriding priority in all University operations, and providing well-lit parking lots and walkways is an important part of maintaining a safe environment.


With this in mind, more than 300 existing sodium and metal halide lighting fixtures previously located in campus parking lots and along campus walkways have been replaced with significantly brighter LED lighting fixtures. In addition, 50 new LED fixtures have been added in pedestrian traffic areas across campus.


"People in well-lit areas are safer because the activities taking place in those areas can be better monitored," said Oakland University Police Chief Mark Gordon. He explained that this is true not only because officers on patrol and fellow campus community members are better able to see, but because imaging from the University exterior surveillance cameras is improved.


"I think it is also worth mentioning that adding and improving exterior lighting helps people feel safer while they are on campus, and that helps create a more comfortable campus environment in general."


The new LED fixtures are significantly more energy efficient than their predecessors, which will provide both environmental and operating cost benefits.


In the interest of improving convenience and reducing frustration over parking challenges, the University has created 726 new parking spaces in both new and existing lots across campus. The new lots – P-37 and P-39 – were upgraded from temporary gravel lots used in recent years. Meanwhile, new parking spaces have been added to existing lots P-1, P-11, P-12, P-31 and P-38.


In total, the number of new parking spaces represents a 10 percent increase over the number anticipated to be added this past spring. As planning and expansion work progressed, University facilities and grounds personnel were able to realign and re-contour existing and new lots to provide the additional spaces.


"Parking is a major challenge and a source of frustration on almost every college campus in this country, and we at OU have worked to address the challenge head on," said Scott Kunselman, chief operating officer.


"We feel that adding new parking capacity is a smart and worthwhile investment, and we are pleased that we have been able to do so while ensuring that we continue to offer parking to all campus community members free of charge."


A major change made to OU's roadways over the summer months involves the realignment and conversion of the Meadow Brook Road and Pioneer Drive intersection on the southwest side of campus.


The intersection has been reconstructed as a roundabout to improve safety, and also moved to the east to allow for increased staging of vehicles exiting campus onto Squirrel Road at Pioneer. Project engineers anticipate the changes will help alleviate traffic backups during evening rush hours.


More modest roadway changes that have potential to improve traffic flow during peak travel times include the addition of two Bear Bus pull-off spaces. Located at passenger pick-up stops on Pioneer Drive just north of the P-37 parking lot and on Ravine Drive just north of Pioneer Drive, these pull-offs will allow vehicular traffic to pass Bear Buses as they are picking up and dropping off passengers.