Every morning during the school year, drivers on Patterson Street heading downtown face the same issue -- Valdosta State University students crossing the road, darting in and out of traffic, in their effort to reach their classrooms on time.
VSU officials recently approached the city about potential solutions to the problem, suggesting that the speed limit be lowered to 25 mph from 35 mph, and a fence be constructed along the front of the university on Patterson, allowing only three entry points.
Thankfully, members of the city council expressed concerns with the proposal and VSU President Ron Zaccari said he is receptive to further discussion.
It's commendable that VSU wants to be proactive in this matter and take action, even though no student has been struck by a vehicle. However, the proposals seem far too expensive and too intrusive an undertaking in proportion to the problem, which is essentially finding a way to discourage students from jaywalking on a major city street and endangering their own lives.
The City of Valdosta has designated Patterson Street as the main commuting artery into Valdosta. Traffic is discouraged on other routes to promote traveling on Patterson, particularly in the morning. It would negate whatever strides the city has so carefully made in its commitment to ease traffic into the city each morning by permanently lowering the speed limit.
Also, the construction of a fence along Patterson in front of the main campus would not only spoil the beautiful view, it's a very expensive undertaking, particularly for a university still reeling from the loss of millions of dollars in support from the state of Georgia.
As the university continues its phenomenal growth near the city's center and until a parking garage can be constructed to alleviate the issue of students parking so far from campus, it's in the interest of both the city and the university to work together to find solutions.
Perhaps when the two meet for further discussions, they could consider the following alternatives:
Create a "school zone" each morning, lowering the speed limit for a limited time only;
Utilize the VSU safety department to serve as crossing guards during the morning rush hour, stopping traffic at one or two designated cross walks;
Increase police presence to discourage speeders.
And if those relatively low cost alternatives aren't enough to discourage students from darting into traffic, perhaps the university should consider ticketing students who jaywalk. It's for their own safety and if it helps prevent a tragedy, then it would be worth it.