The Worst Intersection On Campus & How To Cross It
If you’ve ever tried to cross College Avenue on University Drive as a pedestrian, you’ve most likely felt in danger. Whether you’re trying to get to Beaver Stadium from your place on University, or making your way up the road from east campus, there’s no easy solution. We are here to break down the options for crossing this dangerous thousand-foot stretch of land.
There it is — the IIQ (intersection in question). Some residents of the Meridian may look out at this intersection every day, not even considering the distress it has caused students. We measured it out, and the distance needed to be covered is just north of 1,000 feet, pushing 1,100 feet from sidewalk to sidewalk. But, this may be the most challenging 1,100 feet you’ve ever attempted to travel.
Walking from the safety of one sidewalk to the other is no simple task, however. Any person who has made this journey before knows that there are two realistic options to successfully cross.
Option 1: The Hill-Crosswalk Traverse Method
The hill-crosswalk traverse method is probably the safer of the two options, requiring you to walk down a steep hill, cross College Ave., and then maneuver your way towards the Meridian bus stop. This may sound straightforward, but it absolutely is not.
This hill decreases over 50 feet in elevation in around 530 feet of walking distance, making it just as difficult to walk down as it is to walk up. This hill is no joke, but a big benefit of using this method is preparing your legs for that Mount Nittany hike you’ve been putting off since freshman year.
Unfortunately, once you reach the bottom of the hill, your problems are just beginning. You’ll soon find yourself face to face with a crosswalk across College Ave., but the “push to walk” button is next to useless. The most efficient method to cross this section is to wait for a gap in the cars whizzing by at 45 miles per hour, then do a half-walk half-jog across the road.
The next obstacle is on the easier side: you just have to use a crosswalk to sneak past the cars that aren’t really looking for pedestrians trying to turn onto College. This is where your luck runs out. You will find yourself on a very tiny island of grass with only a crosswalk towards downtown, and no form of guidance back towards University Drive.
For full transparency, this section is more annoying than it is dangerous or confusing. However, during the nighttime, it does get difficult to tell if cars are coming your way or continuing east on College Ave. Snow would be an added obstacle here, forcing you to trudge through the elements towards the Meridian bus stop. You can see in the picture above that the island of grass is muddy from students most likely wandering the island, wondering how they’re supposed to get back to University Drive.
Once you get to the Meridian bus stop, you’re basically in the clear. You just have to climb up a winding and skinny sidewalk back to University, where you can follow the sidewalk there to wherever your heart desires. All in all, this method will force you to travel well over 1,500 feet and cross multiple dangerous and sometimes unmarked streets.
Option 2: The University Drive Tightrope Method
This method is much more straightforward than the former and is most likely the logical option for first-time crossers. However, walking down this section of University Drive is legitimately very dangerous and turns into a scary and nerve-racking experience very quickly. There is a sign here that says “Pedestrians Prohibited,” so we do not recommend or condone attempting this method yourself.
This method gets its name for a reason, it feels like you’re walking across a tightrope, hugging the guard rail for dear life and praying the cars whizzing by can see you. The shoulder is only about 5.5 feet at its widest, and 3.5 feet at its narrowest. During the nighttime, this method is basically off-limits and is to only be attempted by daredevils and people who have experience with this method in daylight.
The scariest part of walking down this road is how bad the visibility is for drivers and the fact that it turns into a bridge for about 75 feet. The bridge portion also happens to be where the shoulder gets the narrowest. It’s a hold-your-breath type of experience. On football weekends, this method does become safer due to the sheer volume of people crossing and the decrease in vehicle traffic in the area.
Once you make it to where the shoulder of the road starts to turn, you are faced with yet another grass island, similar to the one in the first method. You have to cross to the island from the bridge section, then finally from the island to the safety of a sidewalk. It’s not an ideal situation by any stretch of the imagination.
The Cover-Up and Other Issues
Now that we’ve outlined the two methods for navigating this “intersection,” we can look at some of the other issues with it.
First, we can’t help but believe the university is trying to hide how unsafe and annoying this voyage truly is. One the official campus map, it’s cut off right when pedestrian crossings start to get really bad. Yes the map’s cut off point is technically the official “end of campus,” but it’s certainly a shady and convenient place to put such an awful intersection.
Another awful aspect of this intersection is that it’s located right next to the Penn State Wastewater Services Treatment Plant, so spoiler: It smells bad. Anyone who has been to this section of town knows they need to hold their breath for a few minutes while passing by. This treatment plant has the potential to spoil an otherwise enjoyable stroll or commute to campus.
This intersection is also dangerously close to Penn State’s historic Breazeale Nuclear Reactor. Although this reactor is completely harmless on a day-to-day basis, if left to your own devices while making the great trek, you might scare yourself into realizing that if it happened to malfunction or melt down while you were passing by, you would get one of the highest doses of radiation. Yet another reason to avoid this dangerous intersection.
The intersection of College Ave. and University Drive is bad. Is there a solution to fix how it? Probably not. It’s just annoying and inconvenient for on-campus and off-campus students alike. Let us know if you think there’s a worse intersection either on campus or downtown.
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About the Author
Can I get a…Penn State alum on Wheel of Fortune?
Penn State senior Hannah Mears is an aspiring broadcast journalist who’s honed her reporting skills as a sideline reporter for Penn State Athletics over the past three-plus years.
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