USG suggests closing The Row to traffic

Seeking a long-term solution to The Row’s continual safety and traffic problems, Greek senators are resurrecting a USG proposal to close 28th Street to traffic.

The project has been discussed before, but now USG is taking steps to assess interest and has already started surveying students about the possibility of a full or partial closure of 28th Street. The senators have also created a Facebook group, “USG 28th Street Development,” to better communicate with students and address individual concerns.

Any proposed changes, however, would have to be approved by the city and garner strong support from USC administrators, likely after a study of its viability.

“It poses a lot of great things for the Greek community and the 28th street neighborhoods,” said USG Greek Senator Max Ukropina.

The primary motivation behind the project is to improve the safety, beauty and utility of The Row, Ukropina said. The senators are considering a proposal for a gate system or a guarded kiosk entrance, which would allow access only to the Department of Public Safety, Campus Cruiser and emergency vehicles.

Implementing any changes on 28th Street would have to be spearheaded by the USC administration. Officials first must decide whether a closure fits with the university’s overall goals for its campus and the surrounding areas. Then, USC would bring a funding proposal to the city, where it would go through a lengthy permit process. A number of Greek and parents’ associations would also be consulted.

According to Ukropina, this process could easily take up to eight years before the actual change would happen.

The idea of blocking off one or both sides of The Row is not a new one, according to USG President Holden Slusher, but it has always only been worked on in conjunction with other plans.

“It was an idea before, but now it’s an actual project that’s being worked on,” Slusher said. “Although it’s very popular on The Row, there are so many coordinating councils that need to discuss it … It has never been pushed to the point where it’s handed off to alumni or parent groups to get their support.”

DPS Chief Carey Drayton, who has met with the Greek senators to consider the idea, said they are still in the process of discussing and evaluating various plans to boost safety around campus with both the administration and the surrounding neighborhood associations.

“We are looking at ways to improve safety and security in our community, but that involves lots of different ideas,” Drayton said.

According to Ukropina and fellow Greek Senator Dylan Dann, 28th Street is exposed to a great deal of traffic.

Ukropina said he believed blocking off one or both sides of The Row would decrease traffic congestion, improve safety for bikers and pedestrians, add to the overall aesthetic quality of the street and dissuade thefts and violence.

However, some students said they doubt that blocking off The Row would accomplish the senators’ goals of improving safety.

Timothy Sattler, a junior majoring in public policy, management and planning, said both the Greek community and the senators should provide students with more information about the utility of the project before moving forward with any plans.

“I actually don’t see how it would make The Row that much safer,” Sattler said. “There would still be easy access to The Row even if there wouldn’t be direct access to Hoover.”

Sattler said he was skeptical about the usefulness of a gate or blockade on either side of The Row, and added that the cost and feasibility of such a project should also be considered.

Laura Redfern, vice president of communications for the Panhellenic Council, said they had concerns regarding the logistics of parking and movement in and out of The Row if a blockade was built.

“Girls are concerned about parking … It is already so scarce on The Row,” Redfern said. “[The] Greek senators reassured us that they wouldn’t just close down The Row and do nothing about [parking].”

Despite those concerns, Redfern said Panhellenic agreed that any sort of blockade would improve The Row’s safety.

“I think it would definitely improve the safety of not just the row but [of] the entire university,” Redfern said. “We’ll definitely be a part of the discussion when the time comes.”

Hamada said IFC would be willing to consider the plan if the discussion became more concrete and the senators were able to provide them with their research and all possible options.