Beginning this August, Harrisonburg, Va.-based James Madison University (JMU) will change how students, faculty, staff and community members navigate campus, with the addition of four gates, reconfigured parking lots around portions of the Bluestone area of campus, some bike lane and crosswalk modifications, and the addition of a bus staging area.
Over the past few years, JMU has made great progress in its overall commitment to environmental sustainability on campus.
"The reason why we did this as a university was to support overall efforts for environmental sustainability. The goal over time being reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles on campus, reducing congestion on campus and reducing a lot of the cut-thru traffic on campus," explained Don Egle, JMU's director of public affairs. "Also, I think what we're going to see is the efficiency of the public transportation system increase, because we are reducing a lot of the vehicles on campus, allowing the buses to move more freely and stay on schedule."
Another primary reason, Egle added was JMU's goal of creating a more pedestrian friendly campus, by making it easier for those who either walk or ride their bicycles.
The gated portion of campus will be closed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The gated portion of the campus will be open weeknights after 7 p.m., on weekends, during certain events and during the summer. The new gates on campus, which help control traffic flow, are expected to have little impact on JMU's student body.
"The changes this summer will have a slight impact on some of our faculty and staff," said Egle. "What I mean is they may not be parking right outside their building, but at an adjacent parking lot, for example. But, our students won't see any significant changes in parking, because their lots are located primarily on the perimeter of campus."
Another goal of JMU's program was to cut its overall environmental footprint and increase students' use of the City of Harrisonburg's public transit system.
"We have seen huge bus ridership numbers for a number of years. So much so that the City of Harrisonburg will be purchasing seven new buses this summer," Egle said.
The long-standing relationship between JMU staff and the city's public transportation department sees collaboration between the two entities to improve services on campus, including adding and changing routes or adjusting schedules.
Construction on the gating system will begin immediately following commencement, with the new campus layout completed by the beginning of the fall semester in August. JMU will be using a webpage to communicate progress on the project throughout the summer.