Pedestrians leery of off-campus commute

Bobby Scott, Copy Editor

Pitt-Johnstown community members who live in off-campus residences may have more challenges travelling by walking to and from campus.

Potentially icy areas for pedestrians exist along Schoolhouse Road reaching from Theatre Drive’s four-way intersection to the Picking Drive/Vo-Tech Drive intersection, as well as the stretch of Theatre Drive that extends from the intersection with Schoolhouse Road to the Bloomfield apartments.

Neither street offers any type of sidewalk, crosswalk or other accommodation for people who don’t have much choice but to walk to campus.

Seniors Steve Finnegan and Nick Malaskovitz both said they had disconcerting experiences while walking to and from the Commons Apartments.

“The (mound on the border of the campus along Schoolhouse Road across from the Commons) is so steep, and when it snows, the snowfall gets patted down because it is often walked on, which makes the surface slick,” Finnegan said.

“One time, I fell at the bottom of the (mound) and it felt like I was going to slip onto the road, and if a car even made the slightest little swerve at that specific time, I would have gotten hit.”

Malaskovitz said the worst time to cross the road was when he had to go to class.

“It was sketchy, especially in the morning when people are driving to work, and you have an 8 a.m. class so you try to cross (Schoolhouse Road),” he said.

“It is always busy, and drivers are flying down the road; it is definitely not safe.”

Both lived in the apartments during the 2014-15 school year, but now live in a Wilderness Townhouse.

“How hard would it be to make a sidewalk?” Finnegan said.

“I would walk and get snow in my boots every day walking from the Commons to class.”

He said that there should be a sidewalk extending from the Commons to the Bloomfield Apartments, and that crosswalks should be placed at both areas along with a paved pathway that takes people straight to Krebs Hall.

Pitt-Johnstown Finance and Administration Vice President Amy Buxbaum said, while safer roadsides are a good idea, it is not a decision fully up to university officials to make.

“We certainly are supportive of any property improvements that would benefit our students such as sidewalks,” she said.

“Our campus has recently been involved in a preliminary brainstorming meeting about this idea, but it is important to note that any discussions at this point are truly in the brainstorming phase.”

Buxbaum also said any sidewalks between our campus and the areas mentioned involves private property, and any project to add pedestrian paths would need to involve a large number of stakeholders.

While there used to be university-organized shuttle buses for off-campus students, it doesn’t seem like they will return until there is, once again, official university off-campus housing, according to Buxbaum.

“We did have a shuttle for College Park Apartments when the building operated,” she said.

“The service will resume to the building when renovations are completed and students are again occupying the building.”

The College Park Apartments have been condemned since before the start of the 2013 fall semester and are to reopen when renovations are complete.

They are expected to reopen in January of 2017, according to Buxbaum.