Already buzzing with conversation and collaboration, the Joyce Cummings Center opened to students two weeks ago today and has seen an influx of students, faculty and staff traveling to and from the new $90 million academic building. But with heavy Green Line Extension construction and no easy-access crosswalks in sight, students have been forced to navigate busy streets and illegally jaywalk over College Avenue in order to access the building.
Frankly, this editorial is far overdue. For the entire semester, barriers have blocked off the sidewalk closest to the Cummings Center between Halligan Hall and the busy intersection of College Avenue and Boston Avenue. This means that students traveling to Halligan have had to make a simple decision: cross College Avenue and jaywalk, or walk an extra 400 feet past Halligan to access a crosswalk, only to walk another 400 feet back. To many students, this decision is a no-brainer — take the shorter route. The university cannot expect that students would walk an extra 800 feet roundtrip just to access a crosswalk. After the opening of the Cummings Center, this problem has only worsened, yet Tufts has not provided a safe, convenient and realistic solution for community members traveling to Halligan or the Joyce Cummings Center in the midst of Green Line construction.
The Medford Branch of the Green Line Extension is not set to open until at least May 2022, with further delays likely. This means the Tufts community could potentially be impacted by the construction for many more months. Additionally, the planned pedestrian bridge — which would allow students to cross over the train tracks to access the Cummings Center directly from Boston Avenue — is still not open yet.
We urge Tufts to work with the City of Medford to implement a crosswalk from the Cummings Center to the opposite side of College Avenue as quickly as possible, so that students may cross the street legally and without fear of physical harm.
This would not be the first time for Tufts to implement a new crosswalk with the City of Medford; in 2017, the crosswalk at the intersection of Boston and College Avenue was redesigned to improve pedestrian safety.
This proposed crosswalk would not only provide a solution to a current safety issue, but also alleviate potential problems in the future when faculty move in, spring classes begin and the interior cafe opens. Given the additional foot traffic new buildings drive in — not to mention a six-story building housing three departments, among many other groups — increasing the availability of safe and easy means of access cannot be undervalued.
A new crosswalk would also benefit faculty, staff and visitors who commute to the building by car. The Cousens Parking Lot — located on the opposite side of College Avenue — is one of two main parking lots serving the Cummings Center. The stairs of the parking lot lie directly across the street from the center, so a new crosswalk would also have the benefit of allowing those who drive to safely walk to the building, even after the pedestrian bridge opens and Green Line construction concludes.
Lastly, a new crosswalk would benefit those in Tufts’ host communities of Medford and Somerville who seek to use the Green Line or access the cafe that will open inside of the Cummings Center.
We commend the university for valuing pedestrian safety and inclusivity by incorporating a pedestrian bridge and improving the Burget Path behind the center, but Tufts’ commitment to the safety of its students, faculty, visitors and host community members cannot end there. The university must implement a crosswalk near the Joyce Cummings Center to resolve an issue that the community has already been dealing with for months and will only worsen in the future.