StuGov enacts new changes to Renew Our Roads Initiative

Baylor Student Government posts Renew Our Roads progress report billboard on Fountain Mall for students to view. Camryn Duffy | Photographer

By Mary Ellis | Staff Writer

The Office of the Student Body External Vice President has enacted updates to the Renew Our Roads Initiative, which include placing two interactive billboards around campus.

The Renew Our Roads Initiative launched in October 2021. The initiative was put in place to improve the transit infrastructure surrounding Baylor’s campus.

“When it comes to Renew Our Roads, there are two things most important to us: safety and equity,” Zach Tufenkjian, Hoffman Estates, Ill., senior and student body external vice president, said.

The action of making the neighborhood surrounding Baylor’s campus more equitable and safe includes sidewalk and other transit infrastructure improvements.

“Sidewalk and other transit infrastructure improvements that are better not just for cars but pedestrians, bicyclists and everyone in between,” Tufenkjian said.

The two billboards are similar but provide different information. One is a progress report that discusses the improvements already made in the Renew Our Roads Initiative, and the other has general information about Renew Our Roads. They both have two QR codes that lead to the MyWaco app and a feedback form.

“[It] goes directly to us in student government for the collection of reports or feedback about issues in the Baylor neighborhood that we might be able to address,” Tufenkjian said.

The billboards have been placed on Fountain Mall and outside of Collins Residence Hall on 8th Street.

The most tangible change made so far is the 11th Street and Speight Avenue intersection becoming a four-way stop. According to data Tufenkjian’s office collected as of October 2021, there were 10 reported crashes to the city beginning in November 2019.

“Since 2019, there have been 10 reported crashes, and eight of those crashes had damage of $1,000 or more to the vehicles,” Tufenkjian said.

There are five other intersections surrounding Baylor’s campus that have been submitted to City of Waco staff and are currently either pending implementation or review.

In addition to intersection changes, Shea Berthelot, McKinney sophomore and director of the Office of Extra-University Relations, said potholes are a large issue around Waco.

“Got in my car one afternoon and we rode around and wrote down and took pictures of where the potholes were in our neighborhood area,” Berthelot said. “Potholes are a huge issue around Waco.”

Berthelot and her team ranked the potholes from minor to most problematic and reported them.

Berthelot said one of the major potholes on 10th Street between the Brazos Apartments and Park Place was reported before winter break and is now completely gone.

Tufenkjian and his team originally contacted City Council members who then put them into direct contact with someone on the City of Waco’s Traffic Department staff.

“We are very appreciative of them and all the work that they have done not just for us but also the student body and the greater Baylor neighborhood as well,” Tufenkjian said.