UMass Amherst hires national firm to assist with pedestrian safety

UMass Amherst hires national firm to assist with pedestrian safety
Published: Apr. 2, 2022 at 11:32 PM EDT
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AMHERST, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - UMass Amherst has hired a national firm to assist with pedestrian improvements on campus. This comes after two students were struck over the past six weeks, one fatal, the other a hit and run.

The National firm that has been hired is VHB, which has four offices in Massachusetts, including one in Springfield. We spoke with students earlier Saturday to hear their thoughts about the University taking action.

“I’m not really sure what the firm is going to do but I am glad that UMass is doing something to help combat it. It definitely makes me feel better that they’re like actually taking action here and trying to keep campus safe,” said UMass junior Joshua Krupp.

UMass Amherst students are weighing in on the University’s decision to hire VHB, a national firm that will assist with pedestrian recommendations on campus.

“Obviously, it could be better there’s been two or three accidents in the past month so it definitely could be better,” explained UMass freshman Michael Wallace.

This decision comes after one student was hit and killed by a car on campus six weeks ago on Massachusetts Avenue. Just last week, another car struck a student leaving them hospitalized.

“Recently there’s been like a lot of accidents, and I was at the gym the other day and I saw two cars run into each other and the ambulance came out with a stretcher and everything,” said Krupp.

UMass officials told Western Mass News that the goal of this firm is to develop a range of short-term, mid-term, and long-term recommendations aimed at reducing vehicle speeds on campus, providing consistent pavement markings, signage, lights, signals, improving pedestrian crossing points, enhancing bicycle accommodations and improving visibility.

“Generally, I don’t think the UMass drivers are all that good, so I’ve always been kind of worried but more so recently concerned especially crossing the street at night,” said Krupp.

VHB will assist with pedestrian improvements on Massachusetts and Commonwealth Avenues, which are expected to be implemented this summer. Additionally, they will add accessible pedestrian signal upgrades at the main signalized intersections along those avenues. Students we spoke with shared what they hope will change with these added safety measures.

“Maybe just more regulation of how fast people are going I think that’s really a big thing especially when it’s raining the visibility is down,” said Wallace.

University officials also told us that they will be working with the UMass Transportation Center in the College of Engineering to help with pedestrian improvements as well.