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What It’s Like to Walk the Length of Campus

Parker Abate, Reporter

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1,631.

That’s how many steps it takes to walk along campus—and the newly installed sidewalks and bridge—from Mercy Hall to Machell Hall.

I learned, during my quest to find out what walking the new route is like, that Machell Hall is approximately .74 miles from the center of campus, and it’s the building located the greatest distance away from the campus center. The building houses 17 graduate students, according to the university website.

As I walked, government, law, and national security major Alex Iurato stopped his black truck in the middle of busy Lake Street and asked me, “What the h— are you doing?”

When I told him I was walking to Machell Hall, he furrowed his brow and asked, “Where is that?”

Senior occupational therapy major Kelly Byrne has walked the route and never had a similar experience although she wishes he had.

“I don’t believe I have ever seen anyone I knew driving. However, if I did, I would certainly hope they would pick me up and give me a lift,” said Byrne.

Why would I not want to walk to the farthest building from the center of campus on a 66 degree November day? I had never used the sidewalk and bridge, which cost the university nearly $400,000, including state grants. There seems to be a common misconception that no one uses the new path, and as I walked into a spider web on the bridge I wondered, does anyone ever walk on this thing?

Government law and national security major Evan Bush said he ran from campus past Machell Hall on a Saturday after a football game.

“I did not use the bridge,” he said. “To do so would have caused unnecessary deviation from the fastest root possible. I did, however, use the sidewalk,” Bush said.

Mark Van Etten, Director of Facilities and Auxiliary Services said the bridge and sidewalk project was necessary.

“After the University purchased Passan Hall, there was a drastic increase in foot traffic of MU students along Lake Street.  The sidewalk project was completed to increase the safety of our students who walk along Lake Street,” he said.

Sophomore Annette Ritzko said she used the bridge more often when it was under construction.

“I haven’t walked since the end of summer, but I know I walked on the little bridge way more when it was taped off than now when it’s not taped off anymore. I suppose there’s something about forbidden things that scream ‘shortcut,’” Ritzko said.

Junior Communications major Anthony Vega raced a friend from Metz Field House to his home adjacent to Machell Hall. He had an interesting experience when another friend driving by opened his windows and played the “Rocky” theme song.

Vega praised the bridge for helping him in the race.

“The bridge was a small time-saver for me because I didn’t have to cross the road to continue my route home. Once I passed the bridge, it was a straight shot down the pathway on Lake Street,” Vega said.

Bush said during his run, other students must not have expected him to be on the path.

“I passed two female students in front of Passan. I said hello, and nearly scared the living daylights out of them, but I kept on running,” Bush said.

My walk had a similar effect: cars passing, men and women staring with a confused look on their faces. Repeat.

The new sidewalk ends in front of the Ramussen House shortly after the four-way intersection that connects Lake Street and West Center Hill Road. The rest of the path to Machell Hall is an old, uneven, beaten up sidewalk. The Moffit House appears on the left and Passan Hall on the right, if one is walking away from campus.

The most difficult part of the walk is attempting to cross the five-way intersection connecting Memorial Highway, Lake Street, Church Street, and Main Street. However, Penndot is constructing a roundabout, according to Van Etten.

Van Etten explained that Penndot is reconstructing the sidewalk, but not all the way up to where the university ended sidewalk construction. The school applied for a grant from the municipality in to connect Penndot and university sidewalks. This would create a newly constructed sidewalk from Machell Hall to campus. The goal is to have a sidewalk leading to the townhouses and even to Anderson.

Even with his coordination and stamina, Vega said he would welcome it.

“I did notice in the heat of the moment, that [the sidewalk] wasn’t entirely paved evenly, so there was the chance of me tripping over myself. Luckily I didn’t have one of my clumsy moments. I was able to stay on my feet and arrive at the five-way intersection with a decent lead against my friend.

Neither Bush nor Vega had a problem crossing the intersection, unlike me, because I waited there for a good five minutes around noontime. It took me 65 steps to get from Pizza Bella to the intersection, and the whole time I thought of how difficult it was going to be to cross because of the heavy traffic.

Vega hit the five-way late at night, allowing him to breeze right through.

“Crossing the intersection was rather easy at 10 p.m. because of the lack of vehicle traffic, so I didn’t lose any time there,” said Vega.

Bush just got lucky.

“I was lucky enough to hit that dreaded five-way at the perfect time as to not lose any pace in my stride,” Bush said. “From then on, it was pretty uneventful.”

Vega ended up first – not only against his friend running but also his friend who was driving.

“The more shocking part about my adventure was that I beat my other roommate home who drove. He came in second in a race he didn’t know he was a part of,” Vega said.

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What It’s Like to Walk the Length of Campus