Lack of sidewalks on Platt Street creates safety concerns for student body

The sidewalk on Platt Street ends abruptly, creating safety concerns for students walking to and from classes. (Benjamin Voller | Collegian Media Group)

Squeezing her body onto the skinny curb, Olivia Herlocker tries to avoid getting hit while walking from class to her car. Herlocker, a freshman in biochemistry, travels on Platt Street every day and is constantly dodging traffic.

“There have been multiple instances where I have almost gotten hit,” Herlocker said. “Recently, my roommate and I thought we were going to get run over while walking to my car because someone was zooming down the street, not paying attention while we were next to each other walking on the curb.”

Herlocker said the lack of sidewalks means everyone who uses that street winds up blocking the road while walking.

“I would not be surprised if someone gets hit soon because there are always people walking up and down the actual street,” Herlocker said.

Emily Easum, junior in elementary education, said students living on Platt face similar issues.

“Not having a sidewalk is concerning for me because I have night classes, so when I walk home, it is really dark,” Easum said. “I always feel like cars cannot see me.”

Brian Johnson, city engineer for Manhattan, said the city is not ignoring students’ concerns.

“We absolutely see that this is an issue, and we know there is a need for sidewalks,” Johnson said. “But right now, this project is substantially more expensive than we anticipated.”

City residents brought safety concerns to Johnson’s attention four years ago.

“Around four years ago, we designed three projects,” Johnson said. “The first project was the sidewalk along the east side of Sunset, from College Heights to Hunting. The second project was the sidewalk along the east side of Sunset from Hunting to Anderson.”

Johnson said the first two projects had a combined budget of $85,000. The third project is putting sidewalks on Platt Street, but it has a significantly higher budget.

He said the city would need a funding source to accommodate the construction of a significant retaining wall, easements and driveway replacements.

“The property on the north side of the street is higher, so we would need to purchase that property in order to build on it,” Johnson said. “This means the project would cost anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 and could take almost two years.”

Jack Fisher, freshman in civil engineering, does not think construction for new sidewalks is necessary. He says the lack of sidewalks does not bother him.

“Personally, I do not find it dangerous,” Fisher said. “I just think both pedestrians and drivers need to pay more attention, and then it won’t be an issue for anyone.”

Fisher runs on Platt every morning and has never been in any scary situations.

“I always pay attention while I am running, so I avoid cars,” Fisher said. “I think if everyone was aware of their surroundings, then the city wouldn’t need to put in expensive sidewalks.”