With construction closing the block of 13th Street between Norris and Diamond streets, traffic has frequently bottlenecked on Main Campus.
To reduce additions to the bottleneck, Temple Police has frequently been closing 13th Street off with a metal gate near Cecil B. Moore Avenue.
Melissa Sartori, who commutes to Temple for her job at FOCUS, a program in the Newman Center, sat in her car Friday with her 1-year-old daughter in standstill traffic at the intersection of 13th and Norris streets.
“It took me an additional 15 minutes, standing still, not moving in traffic during an afternoon commute from Port Richmond,” Sartori said. She said the delay almost doubled her commute.
“What we found happens during the day [is that] cars get backed up and people get very upset because they can’t go anywhere,” said Charlie Leone, executive director of Campus Safety Services. “It becomes a real bottleneck up there, and then we have class changes and it becomes a nightmare for pedestrians crossing. So we close it so [drivers] have an option on Cecil B. Moore [Avenue] and then our students don’t have to worry about crossing through cars.”
Leone said road construction would be finished soon and streets would be re-opened to traffic.
Laura Trzaska, a sophomore environmental studies major, said the road closures combined with one-way streets make travelling difficult for her.
“All I can really say about the 13th Street closure is that it can be really disorienting, especially at night,” Trzaska said.
“It’s hard to find ways around it,” she added.
Recently, the 13th Street gate has also been closed overnight to traffic, but Leone claims this was a mistake on the part of Temple Police.
“That was just an oversight,” Leone said. “The captains talked to everyone. You’ve got to make sure that once the afternoon rush is over to open the gates back up. We just messed up.”
Leone added that it is difficult to discern when to keep the street open and closed. “It’s hard sometimes to get it perfect,” Leone said. “It gets sporadic sometimes with lunch breaks and people walking back and forth. It can get pretty scary sometimes.”
That can lead to stories like Sartori’s, when drivers are stuck in standstill traffic.
“I was very disappointed and frustrated that they couldn’t direct traffic more smoothly,” Sartori said.
Charlie Cappelli, a senior management and information systems major, said the closures lengthened a trip from Broad and Diamond streets to 6th and Berks streets to about 20 minutes.
According to Google Maps, this trip can be made in five minutes, depending on the time of day.
“It’s just a major inconvenience,” Cappelli said.
Leone said past closures have even led to SEPTA re-routing its buses.
While the construction on 13th Street is set to end soon, future construction will not. According to a Temple press release, Diamond Street between 13th and Broad streets have been closed to through traffic since Oct. 20, due to a sewer replacement project.
Christian Matozzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org