State, Normal streets reduced to 15 MPH

Jackson French

Drivers on State Street and Normal Street will have to be more careful from now on.

As part of an effort to make WKU’s campus safer for pedestrians, the speed limit on the portions of State Street and Normal Street the school acquired last spring has been reduced to 15 mph.

Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation, said the reduction, which affects the stretch of State Street and Normal Street between Regents Avenue and College Heights Boulevard, was made in July.

Helen Siewers, the project manager who coordinated the change, said the speed limit was reduced to make WKU’s campus safer.

“The speed limit was changed to make it consistent with the other university-owned streets,” Siewers said.

She said by lowering the speed limit on State and Normal, that stretch of road was brought “into the campus standard.”

Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design and Construction, said WKU hired Arnold Consulting Engineering Services, a Bowling Green civil engineering firm, to give the school a recommendation on how to make their portions of State Street and Normal Street safer.

“They actually prepared and put together a little plan for Western for that segment of roadway,” Russell said. “We are just following their recommendations and plans.”

Tougas said the lower speed limit is one of several phases WKU plans to implement to make the school safer for pedestrians.

Siewers said other measures have been implanted or are in the process of being implemented to increase safety, such as widening sidewalks and increasing the visibility of street signs.

Russell said the lights along State and Normal will also be replaced with brighter lights as a part of the plan.

Siewers said there is an advance sign on each side of the 15 mph stretch of road, warning of the oncoming drop in the speed limit.

She said she expects these precautions to make the school safer for walking, with drivers going slower and pedestrians crossing the street at the marked crosswalks. 

Tougas said changes made to the intersection of Regents Avenue and Chestnut Street, which included adding a crosswalk and widening sidewalks, were also part of the initiative.

But she also said pedestrians are still responsible for their own safety.

“It’s still imperative for pedestrians to take their own safety in their own hands and make sure that vehicles are stopped before crossing the road,” she said, adding that pedestrians should also use the crosswalks to get from one side of the street to the other.

“It’s going to take awhile for drivers to get used to the change, but the pedestrians should feel safer crossing the road,” Tougas said.