Seeing St. Mary’s in a New Light

St. Mary’s Road is an important corridor on campus, linking south Champaign with key U of I facilities like the National Petascale Computing Facility, home to world-class supercomputers, the Research Park, and of course, access to Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (DIA) buildings and parking lots.

So, what exactly will you see? Well, for one, you’ll see better.

Improved lighting and easy-to-find crosswalks will aid pedestrians and bicyclists, including updated crosswalks compliant to the Americans with Disabilities Act; thousands may walk this path for football game days for years to come.

People driving, walking, and biking can now see renovated features on the street; the way through spotlights a relatively new—and growing—part of campus. Students, faculty, staff, and community members may value the Research Park as much as past generations did the Main Quad, and now have more welcoming, safe pathways worthy of a visit.

Pedestrians will find a new sidewalk on the north side of St. Mary’s Road that connects to Neil Street, improving safety and access between south campus and local businesses. These additions continue the type of work done elsewhere on campus, including the MCORE Project, which drastically improved heavily-trafficked transportation corridors in recent years.

Stacey DeLorenzo, transportation demand coordinator for F&S, ensures projects properly align with objectives and goals from the Transportation Demand Management Plan FY21-26, many of which also correspond with the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), the campus strategic sustainability plan facilitated in part by F&S.

“With the addition of more Research Park facilities, the Illinois Conference Center expansion, and the addition and expansion of several DIA facilities, the traffic along this segment has increased over the years,” said DeLorenzo. “Our primary goal is to keep all users of the campus transportation network safe by providing the best facilities possible.”

This “complete street” design is meant to include passage for all modes of transportation, including pedestrians, bicyclists, mass transit, and single-occupancy vehicles. Shared paths for all modes were added, making St. Mary’s now two lanes for cars and buses, but more inclusive for bike lanes. Pedestrian signals were added at Neil Street, too.