CHAMPAIGN, Ill. In an effort to improve safety, a slower speed limit has gone into effect today throughout most of a newly created University District at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The university will post signs designating the district and signs indicating the 25 mph speed limit (a reduction of 5 mph from the previous speed limit). Speed limits on major arterial streets in the district will be unaffected.
Electronic message boards will alert motorists to how fast theyre going and help them become accustomed to the lower speed limits, according to UI police. The signs will be placed at several locations in the district.
The irregularly shaped district is bordered primarily by Neil Street on the west, University Avenue on the north, Lincoln Avenue on the east and Windsor Road on the south. (To request a map of the district, call the News Bureau, 333-1085.)
"We hope the changes will encourage drivers to drive slower and be alert for pedestrians," said Charles Colbert, vice chancellor for administration and human resources.
The traffic initiative began after Jason Chow, a freshman in engineering, was struck and killed by a pickup truck in 1995 as he walked across the intersection at Green Street and Mathews Avenue. The Campus Area Transportation Study helped the UI formulate plans to improve traffic safety. The participants in the study were Campustown merchants, the cities of Champaign and Urbana, the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the university.
"We are changing the speed within the University District area because it is a high pedestrian traffic area," said Pam Voitik, assistant vice chancellor for administration and human resources.
"The area is different from downtown Champaign and downtown Urbana," Voitik said. "There are 50,000 people on campus every day many more than would be in an area its size in Champaign or Urbana."
The reduction in speed limits will affect streets owned either by Champaign or the university within the new district, said Gary Biehl, management engineer for the UI division of operation and maintenance.
The new district signs include a top section that says "Welcome to the University District" in white lettering over a blue background under the university logo. The bottom section is a black-and-white sign that says, "Vehicles Yield to Pedestrians in Crosswalk."
The speed-limit signs will be placed about 100 feet behind the University District signs. The speed-limit signs will be larger 24 by 30 inches than the current signs. Eventually, the UI will post about 100 speed-limit signs inside the district, Biehl said.
"A lot of signs will go on existing poles," he said. "There will probably be a speed limit sign on every block."