Normal Street speed limit reduced to 15 mph

Normal Street speed limit between College Heights Boulevard and Regents Avenue is being reduced from 25 mph to 15 mph to enhance the safety of pedestrians.

Elliott Pratt

Beginning Friday, July 19, a new speed limit will be enforced on Normal Street. The current speed limit of 25 mph will be reduced to 15 mph on Normal Street between College Heights Boulevard and Regents Avenue.  

WKU requested the ownership of that portion of Normal Street from the city of Bowling Green back in the spring.

Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design, and Construction, said the road hasn’t been very safe in the past.

“Speed is the number one cause for accidents,” Russell said. “When you have students and people that have a tendency to step out in front of vehicles. By putting in cross-walks and trying educate changed behavior, the first thing to do is to get people to pay attention to what’s going on.”

Jennifer Tougas, director of Parking and Transportation services, said those who have travelled through Normal Street have had plenty of time to notice signs and prepare for the change.

“We’ve had the signs up about the change for about two weeks,” Tougas said.

The section of road between Regents Avenue and University Boulevard will remain the responsibility of Bowling Green and will stay at the 25 mph speed limit.

Along with the speed limit reduction will come new changes and improvements to the corridor including widening the sidewalks, improved lighting, repaving, and upgrading and increasing crosswalks.

“Coincidentally, we are doing several things in phases to make pedestrian safety a number one priority going down that street,” Russell said. “Last year, we had a student hit and severely hurt and we want to avoid any further incidents if we can. We are very sensitive and conscious about that.

Russell said the existing lighting on the street is strictly street lighting, and that a new project that is currently underway to provide more lighting to Normal Street.

“We’ll be removing the cobra head lighting and replacing that with WKU standard light bulbs and banners,” Russell said. “We’ll be putting in more lights and more poles. It’s a pedestrian corridor and not a vehicular corridor.”

Widening the sidewalk on the hillside of State Street is one of the more important improvements taking place according to Russell.

Previously, cars could park along the hillside and often became clustered with the heavy volume of pedestrians. Russell said goal of the project is to eliminate future issues with congested vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

“We’re going to be providing wider sidewalks this summer, but we’re going to leave out a section where the new honors college is going,” Russell said. “The whole plan is to put adequate sidewalk for the volume of pedestrians walking up the hill.”

With Gary Ransdell Hall and other campus-affiliated organizations on Normal Street, these improvements will allow those organizations to be more included with the campus.

“With the expansion of Western going on the other side of Normal (Street), the affiliated organizations really cry out to be involved with the university landscape.”