Sustainable Transportation students present before Plan Commission

Geography students presented before the Edwardsville Plan Commission as part of their Sustainable Transportation course taught by professor Susan Hume. They presented ways to improve the area with complete street components and other recommendations. Photo by Theresa San Luis

Students in geography professor Susan Hume’s Sustainable Transportation class presented their research and findings on how to improve roadways before the Edwardsville Plan Commission, which advises the City Council, last week.

Carrie Allison, Teronica Burns, Brigette Ealy, Chris Jenner, William Knapp, Kate Oost, Lais Stevens, Breana Lamb, Dean Gunderson and Ben Woolf presented slide shows suggesting ways to enhance the quality of roadways through “complete streets” in downtown Edwardsville and along Troy Road at the Edwardsville City Hall.

Complete streets are to include crosswalks, bus shelters and connected bike trails to accommodate non-motorists.

Hume said she was “really pleased” how the evening turned out and was proud of her students.

“I think the best thing about this experience was that it really raised the stakes for students. It raised the quality of those presentations…” Hume said. “I think they found it far more satisfying and put that much more effort into it in order to present to the Plan Commission.”

According to Lamb, a geography graduate student, the city hall was “very open” to what the students were proposing, and that the commission’s feedback and questions were “legitimate.”

Jenner, a senior geography major, said it made him feel good that they did a “really good job” as he noticed Plan Commission Chair Beth Schlueter offered praise after each of their presentations.

City Planner Scott Hanson said he thought all four group presentations were “very well done.”

“We learned some things we thought were good ideas and we look forward to looking into them more for implementation,” Hanson said. “The quality of the presentations were on par with the quality we would expect from a professional consultant.”

The students’ other suggestions included making roads Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. To improve safety for pedestrians in parking lots at such stores as Shop n’ Save, they recommended the construction of raised sidewalks. Other ideas presented included a “pocket park” to serve as a rest area for bicyclists and adding more bike racks and bike lanes. “Rain gardens” could be built in the sidewalks to include greenery and make the area more attractive and desirable for businesses and citizens.

Hume said Hanson approached her last year with the idea for students to take on a project which turned out to be “a nice exchange.” Hume considered the projects he proposed and decided on one to structure the course. Hanson and City Engineer Eric Williams came to speak to the class.

Gunderson, a geography graduate student, said he enjoyed the project and doing the field work, which is “less theoretical” and provided an opportunity for “real world experience.”

This was the first semester the sustainable transportation course was offered.

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