Southern Oregon University students cross Siskiyou Boulevard at Garfield this morning, the first day of classes. The crosswalk at Garfield, where a student was killed last year, has been redesigned. Jim Craven / Daily Tidings - Jim Craven

Students return to reworked intersection

Thousands of students filed into classrooms at Southern Oregon University this morning for the start of fall term — many of them crossing busy Ashland streets to get there.

Preliminary data suggests enrollment will likely be up at SOU this fall, officials announced this morning, and with more students come more pedestrian traffic problems.

The university, which straddles Siskiyou Boulevard — Ashland's main thoroughfare — worked with the city this summer to improve a crosswalk where a student was critically injured in February 2008.

Gladys Jimenez, 22, died a week after being struck by a car in a Siskiyou Boulevard crosswalk at Garfield Street.

This summer, the city worked to make that crosswalk safer. Crews have reoriented the crosswalk so it is perpendicular to the street, instead of diagonal, and have installed flashing warning beacons, a median and another streetlight at the intersection.

SOU administrators are pleased with the city's improvements to the crosswalk, said Larry Blake, SOU's director of campus planning and sustainability and a member of the city's Planning Commission.

"I think it's made it considerably safer," he said. "That was really a hazardous intersection before."

University officials have also given all new students information on how to cross the streets safely, Blake said.

"We're trying to make them aware of the need for vigilance on that street," he said.

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