In case you weren’t aware, Toledo has a lot of construction. It’s truly an orange barrel city.
One of the biggest projects the city has undertaken recently is the Bancroft Road project that, in three parts, will completely repave the street and put in a roundabout for easier traffic flow. The project, according to the city of Toledo, will go on until the end of 2018.
The first phase, which occurred already, was the reconstruction of the bridge that takes Bancroft Road over the Ottawa River. The second stage, the stage the project is currently in, spans the length of road between Secor Road and Parkside Ave., leaving only one lane open throughout the school year. This section of the project was scheduled to begin in Aug. 2017 and is projected to end in December.
According to a UT spokesperson, the university had no say in when the projects were to take place and where construction would occur at what times. The university Board of Trustees did approve an easement which allowed the project to use some of its land to be able to create the roundabout, but that was the extent of the university's role.
However, according to the university spokesperson, UT and the city have a good ongoing relationship. This relationship allowed the university to request that the closing of a certain section of Bancroft be moved up, so it did not interfere with students moving back to campus and into the dorms. But is that enough?
According to the presentation from the Bancroft Road public meeting on June 14, 2016, the section of road between the bridge and Parkside Ave., which spans the length of the university, is where “traffic is higher” due to a dense population of students and staff.
The second stage of construction began in August, with city officials knowing this is the busiest section of the road, during the busiest time of the year, when the semester begins and students and staff come streaming back.
This phase will, and already has, drastically limited our ability to use one of the major roads that connects to campus, making commuting more difficult. The University of Toledo is largely a commuter school, so complicating the lives of one of the largest student populations is never a good thing.
According to the city, the whole point of this project is to bring the streets up to code and to fix major issues, making traffic flow a lot easier for the whole community. The city found that the roads were ranking at a 53 out of 100 points; anything below a 60 is considered in crucial need of repair.
We are not arguing with the fact that Bancroft St. needs immense amounts of work, nor that the project is important to the community at large. But where is the consideration for the lives of students and staff?
The fact that university officials had to request that the road not be closed during the first weeks of school and the scheduled start date for this particular phase is at the same time the semester starts shows how little the city of Toledo considered the lives of students and the betterment of the university when considering its plan.
Any board of trustee member could have informed the city that the fall semester, just as it does every year, begins during August. Any student, staff member, administrator or even incoming freshman could have informed the city of this fact if they had simply asked. That’s not to mention the increased traffic, as St. Francis de Sales High School, right down the road from UT, also started around the same time.
To us, this is simply poor planning. When it comes to issues with roads, especially those that directly impact the lives of UT students and staff, we think it is imperative that these people are asked to weigh in on how the projects will affect them.
If the city had held a meeting, or even done a survey of students, administration and staff, we are sure that the issue of the semester starting simultaneously with construction would have come up.
But having not been given this opportunity, we are now forced to work around this major inconvenience and even leave for school 45 minutes earlier than usual, just to spend the whole time stuck bumper-to-bumper on Bancroft.
So, the next time the city wants to take on a project to benefit the lives of the community, maybe consider the university community as well. Our lives are just as important, and our concerns need to be considered to avoid another Bancroft disaster, as this year is sure to be.