By Rider Farris | Reporter
Third Street from Baylor Avenue to Speight Avenue has been closed to vehicular traffic since August 2017 to increase safety for students and other pedestrians in that area. Since its closing, traffic and travel inconveniences on campus have increased, leading to opposition to the closure. Third Street should reopen to vehicular traffic, as its’ closing has caused more harm than good for the general Baylor population.
With the closing of Third Street, the last road that traveled through the middle of campus is gone. Now, if drivers want to travel from one side of campus to the other, they must travel all the way to University Parks Drive or Eighth Street and circle around campus. This is a major inconvenience, especially for students who wish to relocate their vehicle or cross campus quickly.
The closure has also led to confusion for those who live in South Russell Residence Hall and for those who want to park in Moody’s 20-minute parking or faculty and staff parking. If traveling to Third Street from Baylor Avenue, drivers have to adapt to the closure of Third Street and the redirection of traffic on Baylor Avenue. It’s all confusing, it’s all a mess and it’s all unnecessary.
The closure of Third Street also made the Baylor Blue bus route change, making an already sub-par bus route even worse for students. The Blue bus route now only provides access to half of campus and is frankly a waste of students’ tuition dollars. Out of six stops, only two would particularly qualify as “on-campus.” Before the closure of Third Street, there was at least one bus that did a campus loop. Now there is none that circles the entire campus.
Third Street was initially closed for the safety of pedestrians in the area, but on almost a daily basis, I see a Baylor maintenance car or truck, a Baylor police car or a Baylor golf cart travel the road. If the road is no longer open to the public and was closed for safety, not a single vehicle should be allowed to use the street. Closing the street to students and staff but allowing maintenance and police to use the road for convenience seems unfair.
The closure of Third Street also adds to the inconvenience of the closures on Fifth Street and Speight Avenue. The roads have been closed to vehicular traffic for several years now, bringing their own nuisances. But while Third Street still provided access from one side of campus to the other, the effect was minor. With Third Street gone, the overall inconvenience of campus in general is outrageous.
The most recent closure also creates confusion and traffic on campus. To be able to map out and plan a route from point A to point B on campus has become a chore. For prospective students and their parents, campus must be confusing. If they are attempting to tour the campus from their vehicle before setting out on foot, they are in for a surprise – it is virtually impossible to see any of the heart of campus by car anymore, with the last central access road now closed.
Although I understand the reasoning behind why the road was closed, the closure is a mistake. Students rarely cross Third Street outside of the crosswalks that existed there when the road was open, and rarely do I see students walking down the middle of Third Street between their classes. The road should resume its intended use and allow vehicular traffic to once again use it. The closure has done far more harm than good; Baylor needs its old Third Street back.
Rider Farris is a journalism and economics major from San Marcos.