The Iowa Department of Transportation made plans a year ago to resurface Highway 10. Northwestern, being an adjacent property, was notified of this construction back in January and told that the campus would have to make some changes.
Doug Beukelman, Vice President of Financial Affairs, was a part of this process. He said, “We have had a plan for straightening the cross walk south of Ramaker, but this also gave us a chance to get some wider crosswalks that we had been planning on for a while.”
The new construction not only provides new safety measures but it also creates an opportunity to make some enhancements to campus.
“We would like to get a sidewalk that continues straight south to the east side of the dining center and end up at the Bultman Center,” Beukelman said.
One of the most noticeable differences is the removal of the trees that were once between Zwemer Hall and Highway 10.
The Zwemer Hall building has not always been the most attractive piece of architecture, so some speculate the original reason for these trees was to serve as a curtain between passer-by and the building. Since then, the building has been remodeled and has become more aesthetically pleasing to the public. According to this theory, the trees are no longer necessary.
The trees had to be removed because they blocked the view of drivers trying to leave the driveway exiting onto Highway 10. Now those who work in Zwemer have a clear view of oncoming traffic.
These crosswalk changes not only included some new paint and redirection, but also new signage, which was possible though a partnership with the city of Orange City. These signs include bars of LED lights that emit sporadic flashing rather than the previous constant pattern.
“Studies show the DOT that that kind of a signal gets ignored because it is too constant,” said Beukelman.
The sporadic flashing more easily grabs the attention of distracted drivers.
“Statistically, nationwide it has cut down on crosswalk instances tremendously,” Beukelman said. “We are going to work over a few years to get them on all of our crosswalks.”
The new lights are activated by a pedestrian push button to alert drivers so they can take the necessary precaution.