Two weeks after an LSU student was fatally struck by an SUV while crossing Nicholson Drive near Tigerland just off the LSU campus, a petition is circulating on social media calling for better lighting in the area, where pedestrian accidents have occurred in the past.
The petition, launched Monday, has garnered 3,500 signatures so far, with the goal of reaching 5,000. It urges Baton Rouge and LSU officials to implement street lights along Nicholson Drive near the Jennifer Jean and East Boyd drive intersections “to keep students safe and alive” when they walk home from Tigerland.
“No more young students should lose their lives in this way,” the petition reads.
The city-parish is planning road improvements along Nicholson Drive as part of the MovEBR program, says transportation and drainage director Fred Raiford, adding that implementing safety features for pedestrians and cyclists is a priority of the program.
As for lighting, Raiford says the city-parish can install street lights in areas inside city limits so that would be something he would recommend for that stretch of Nicholson.
“Because (Nicholson) is part of MovEBR, we can recommend new signals, new pedestrian crossings, sidewalks,” he says. “Our goal is to have safe crossings.”
But there is no timeline or specifics laid out yet because the city-parish and MovEBR program managers still must figure out how to prioritize and execute the projects.
Nicholson Drive is actually a state route, though the city is taking on the improvement work, and DOTD says there is already one crosswalk on Nicholson near Tigerland.
An LSU spokesman declined to comment, saying the question of street lighting in that area is one for the city-parish to answer. But LSU has implemented other pedestrian safety measures on and near campus, like adding traffic lights and reconfiguring lanes in certain areas. Two traffic circles have also been installed on campus.
“I would also add that Easy Streets has lessened the amount of traffic through the interior of campus with the goal to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly,” says LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard.
LSU sophomore Sarah James, 19, was struck and killed on Nicholson Drive near Tigerland around 11:40 p.m. on July 17, according to Baton Rouge police. In the past five years, 41 pedestrians have been hit by vehicles on LSU’s campus, according to a report by the LSU Reveille last year.