London drivers will no longer be able to cross the university's bridge once the city's bus rapid transit system is in place.
Restricting University Drive bridge traffic is part of Western University’s long-term pedestrian-focused Open Space Strategy to create a safer and greener campus.
One of the plan's goals is to limit access to the University Drive bridge. Only bicycles, pedestrians, BRT vehicles and designated university vehicles would be permitted on the bridge. The draft Open Space Strategy will be tabled next month at the school’s Board of Governors meeting.
Changes to bridge access will occur between 2022 and 2026 once the building of the BRT commences; this timeline is dependent on the city. Western and the City of London are still negotiating the details of the BRT system, but the closure of the bridge to public traffic is an integral part of the program.
Lynn Logan, Western's associate vice-president of operations and finance, said the university will continue to ensure that both students and faculty will still have access to the core of campus.
“The goal is to eliminate the traffic that cuts through campus that has no purpose being on campus,” Logan said.
Parking lots in the core of the campus will also be closed and relocated to parking structures to be built on the periphery of campus. Larger lots, like Social Science Lot and Huron Flats, will remain open.
Liam Miszczak, second-year management and organizational studies student, supports the BRT system but has hesitations about restricting access to the bridge.
“If this is a vital bridge [where the closure] will increase traffic in other places, then this change might end up doing more harm than good,” Miszczak said.
However, Miszczak said a car-free initiative would help the university transition toward becoming an eco-friendly school, and it would build upon the new smoke-free campaign at Western.
Rikan Samani, third-year management and organizational studies student, also believes there are pros and cons to restricting bridge traffic.
“I think it would be an issue for those who actually have cars,” Samani said, commenting on the high price that students pay to have a car. “If you have that luxury of coming and going whenever you want, then you want to maximize it.”
On the other hand, Samani thinks that those who use buses will be able to get from home to school faster due to the reduced traffic and that this will allow for an easier flow of people on campus.
“Before anything is drastically changed, the school should get opinions from those who primarily bus and those who primarily drive,” Samani said.
It is still undecided whether bridge traffic will still be restricted in the summer and during after hours.