Loss of bridge requires more options

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The upcoming Grand Bridge reconstruction project has Billikens stopped in their tracks. The steady exchange of students from haunts such as the Loop, Forest Park, and the Central West End will come to a halt this winter for approximately one year as Grand Bridge (and the accompanying MetroLink station) closes down for repairs starting in January 2011.

The most consequential damage, however, will be done to our education – not our social lives. Students who travel at least once a week to the Medical Campus for class will face greater struggles with already difficult schedules.

If it were not arduous enough to plan entire days around the 15 minute shuttle trip to and from across the bridge, it will be even harder now with alternate routes that could possibly last up to 30 minutes to take. Schedules are tough enough to plan with regular classes; med campus students already face scheduling nightmares.

Other problems on a larger scale ominously skirt the horizon. Few SLU students own cars, so the Metro naturally becomes the preferred transportation to Lambert Airport during those days before and after official university holidays. SLU could shrivel into a veritable island with students unable to access such key locales.
The administration is taking steps towards ameliorating these problems with an ad-hoc committee, formed of representatives from all SLU departments. There is also a website ([email protected]) where students can send their queries. These are positive first steps towards finding proper solutions. However, official reports from the administration have lacked transparency and clarity. Several reports simply regarding the schedule for construction have circulated since Father Biondi’s June message (which buried the issue within a ­­­­­smorgasbord of other wordy news bites). This situation has likely resulted from varied reports from city planners themselves, who face a few roadblocks in their developing plans.

­­­­­­­January may seem to lie across an expanse of time; but students need to remember that scheduling begins in a few short weeks. Cooperation and open lines of communication with SLU administrators need to begin immediately; students need to understand how to frame class schedules with accommodations for elusive travel plans for Med Campus classes.

A few simple ideas that, if implemented, can reduce this stress. A shuttle running from campus to the nearest Metro stop serves as a reasonable solution to many of these problems. Shuttles should run on weekends, if not most days of the week. Most importantly, the shuttles must run frequently during crucial days before and after school breaks. This allows students to enjoy the CWE, the Loop, and Forest Park as well as reach the airport for flights home.

SLU must work closely with the student body to provide alternate transportation that meets our needs. Students and administrators need to begin communicating about this issue; we need to see a plan develop soon. Juniors begin scheduling classes in about four weeks, and students have not adequately collaborated with the authority figures in charge of these issues.

Students must rise to the challenge of bringing attention to these upcoming concerns with this reconstruction.