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U.Md.'s Campus Drive reopens

The University of Maryland has reopened Campus Drive to all vehicles following an eight-week summer experiment to turn the campus's primary road into a pedestrian mall.

University officials said the road will remain open to all buses and private vehicles while they analyze data collected during the experiment, including whether the closure had any impacts on bus ridership. Between June 19 and Aug. 13, private vehicles and most buses were rerouted north of campus. Some opponents said rerouting buses away from the heart of campus would discourage bus ridership by making it less convenient.

Turning Campus Drive into a pedestrian mall has been part of the university's master plan for the past 15 years, said Dave Cosner, assistant director of operations and maintenance. Any decision on whether to close the road permanently would be based on an analysis of the data collected this summer. A decision could come in late 2011, when the master plan is updated, he said.

Other opponents to the closure proposal included Purple Line supporters who said it could interfere with the Maryland Transit Administration's plans to build a light rail Purple Line along Campus Drive. State planners say a Campus Drive alignment would serve the most riders and provide the most direct route for a 16-mile light rail line that would run between Bethesda and New Carrollton. University officials have objected to the Campus Drive alignment, saying trains would be dangerous to pedestrians and that electromagnetic interference could affect sensitive scientific experiments in nearby buildings.

Michael D. Madden, the state's project manager on the Purple Line study, said transit planners have found ways to build light rail systems safely on university campuses. He said the state and university officials are continuing to discuss their options.

Cosner said any decision about whether to close Campus Drive long-term would be made separate from any Purple Line plans.

-- Katherine Shaver

By Michael Bolden  | August 18, 2010; 1:41 PM ET
Categories:  Driving, Maryland  
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