After one year of negotiations between the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, officials from USC’s Undergraduate Student Government and university administration, construction on a traffic light at the intersection of Hoover Street and 28th Street has been completed.
Efforts to place a light at the heavily trafficked intersection began in the fall of 2008. Former USG president Jens Midthun and his administration successfully lobbied the city to paint a crosswalk there in the spring of that year, but student safety remained an issue after two accidents occurred despite the improvements, current USG President Holden Slusher said.
Slusher said the new stoplight resulted from discussion at a town hall held last year.
“Students were very concerned,” Slusher said. “We took it upon ourselves to get flashers [for the crosswalk], but we made it our ultimate goal to get a stoplight.”
The Hoover and 28th crossing has seen a total of 10 traffic collisions, six involving bicyclists, from Jan. 1, 2006 to present, but these numbers only reflect those accidents reported to the Department of Public Safety, DPS Capt. David Carlisle said.
The number of collisions — likely higher than the number reported — made safety at the intersection a prime concern, Carlisle said.
LADOT had initially hesitated to grant the university’s request for a traffic light at the intersection, believing the area lacked enough pedestrian traffic to warrant the expense, said Glen Ogura, principal transportation engineer for LADOT.
But after USC invited city officials to conduct a study of the intersection at night, LADOT determined the high volume of students crossing the intersection between the hours of 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. made the traffic light necessary.
“It was really a great partnership between the city and ’SC to make this happen and to make it happen quickly,” Ogura said.
Rather than wait three or four years — the time Ogura estimated it would have taken — for LADOT to place a traffic light at the intersection, the university submitted designs to the city and paid $190,000, along with $10,000 from USG, for the light’s construction. The necessary permits were approved over the summer, allowing the light to be built last week.
“I think it’s awesome that USC fronted that money because even though it took two horrible accidents to get it going, USC was active in getting this done,” Slusher said. “If we partner with administrators, we can get more things done on campus.”
Carlisle said he commends USG’s continued collaboration with university officials in the matter of student safety.
“People would cross in all sorts of directions, and so many students live in that area [and] would brave the traffic,” Carlisle said. “It was a great help to get USC student government to get involved and get that signal up quickly. We think it’s a much safer intersection than it was before.”
Students said they have already experienced positive changes from the traffic light’s construction and hope it will serve as one more step to increase safety in the neighborhood surrounding USC.
“It makes a real difference if you’re trying to turn from The Row. It makes a difference for everybody because pedestrians and drivers are trying to do the same thing, so it can get confusing,” said Noelle Blanchard, a junior majoring in political science and creative writing.
Richard Heredia-Arriaga, a first-year graduate student studying cinema-television production, said he considers the traffic light an improvement on the existing crosswalk at Hoover and 28th.
“It’ll help ensure student safety at school, and school should be a place where you feel safe,” he said. “Crosswalks and pedestrian walks are often ignored by drivers, so I think [the traffic light] is very beneficial and will have a much greater impact than the crosswalk.”
While the traffic light may contribute to a potential decrease in accidents at the intersection, students also have to be proactive in ensuring their own safety by following traffic laws, Carlisle said.
Even though he hopes the new light will make the Hoover and 28th crossing safer for students, Slusher said last year’s fatal hit-and-run at the intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Hoover was a sobering reminder to remain cautious despite the presence of a traffic signal.
“It’s a matter of comfort for some and confidence for others. Knowing those [drivers] have a red light means a lot,” he said. “But even though there’s a red light, that doesn’t make you completely safe.”