Enclosed Crosswalk to Be Built Over U.S. 41

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

Funding for an enclosed crosswalk across U.S. 41 on the Michigan Technological University campus has been included in a special transportation capital funding bill supported by Governor Jennifer Granholm and the leadership of the state legislature.

Pending approval by the legislature, the agreement paves the way for more than $400 million in road programs throughout the state.

The agreement includes $1.5 million for an enclosed pedestrian crosswalk over U.S. 41. As planned, it would begin near the Wadsworth residence hall on the south side of the highway and lead to the main campus, on the north side. Primary users will be the over-2,000 students living in McNair and Wadsworth halls, as well as residents of the university’s Daniell Heights apartments.

“We’re very excited about this project,” said Bill Blumhardt, director of campus facilities planning. ”The university will be advising the Michigan Department of Transportation as the agency plans and constructs the walk.”

The university has been requesting state funding for the walkway for years. As the main route into Houghton, U.S. 41 experiences heavy traffic, and students cross the highway in great numbers as they travel between campus and the residence halls.

While no fatalities have been reported, between 1995 and 2005 10 accidents involving pedestrians occurred in the area. MDOT commissioned a study of the U.S. 41 corridor in 2001, and most of its suggestions have been implemented. The final recommendation was an enclosed crosswalk.

Michigan Tech President Glenn Mroz was especially pleased with the bill. “[Vice President for Governmental Relations] Dale Tahtinen has been working on this issue for years,” he said. “The enclosed walkway will provide an extra level of safety and comfort to our students, particularly as they walk to and from campus in winter. We’re very grateful to the legislative leadership and the governor for recognizing this problem and being willing to take action. I’d especially like to thank State Senator Mike Prusi, State Rep. Rich Brown and their staffs.”

Once the bill has been approved by the legislature and signed by the governor, planning will begin with construction anticipated in 2007.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.