Situated in an urban setting, Saint Louis University is accustomed to adjusting to its surroundings. Currently the Grand Bridge reconstruction, which has been on the city’s to-do list for over two decades, is presenting the campus community with new challenges.
The Grand Bridge, situated between the mile-long stretch of SLU’s main campus and Medical Campus, is scheduled to close in early Spring of 2011, causing students and faculty to plan for the upcoming changes.
The group on campus that will be most affected by the closing are the students who use the shuttle service provided by the University to get to the Medical Campus. The increased time it will take to get there is causing concern among students, and faculty is trying to make the necessary adjustments.
“Our intentions are to remain as flexible as possible with it under the traffic flows and see which way people are headed in the mornings or evenings and try to stay away from the heavier traffic volume so we can keep on time as much as possible,” Tom West, Director of Transportation Services said.
Currently, the city is reviewing the bids for the construction, which has already experienced numerous delays. Even though they have looked at a variety of ways to meet the demands of the changes, Transportation Services will not have a set plan on how to proceed until the details of the project are more finalized.
Students are already thinking about the ways it will affect their everyday routines for the upcoming Spring semester.
“It definitely will [affect me] because it takes like five minutes to get to the Med Campus and it being closed, I’ll have to wake up earlier and find a new route so it will take longer,” Junior nursing student Mary Zindrick said.
Not only will it take more time for students to travel between campuses, but their class schedules will also be affected. No longer can students rush from the main campus to the Medical Campus in ten minutes and make it on time, causing their class schedules to take up more time during the day. Despite some students’ current hectic schedules that force them to rush to the Medical Campus, it is recommended that they allow 30-40 minutes of travel time regardless of whether or not the bridge is closed, College of Arts and Sciences academic advisor Pamela Jackson said.
Even more students will be looking to take advantage of the recent classes available on the Medical Campus. Core classes such as Psychology, Philosophy and Theology are offered, so students taking their applied science courses would not have to keep traveling back and forth between campuses to fulfill their class needs. Despite the ease of class scheduling, many students and parents are expressing concern about the transportation issues.
“We have responded to parents and students talked with SGA we have done surveys on the rides to see what the actual riders want, what they’re expecting from us when it closes,” West said.
Transportation Services has yet to decide if they will reduce service or add an additional shuttle, West said. In the Fall, an express shuttle was added to meet the demands to the school of nursing, which helped alleviate the congestion. In addition to considering many alternate routes, Transportation Services is looking into class times that cause the most demand for use of the shuttles.
“There is concern obviously. The same concern as when Highway 40 shut down,” West said. “We are hoping it is kind of the same type of thing. It’s not as much of an impact as everyone assumes it is going to be. We are hoping for the best. The only thing we can do is just communicate everything we are trying to do and be responsive to their concerns.”