I can still remember my very first Athens snow during the wintertime of my freshman year here. Perched at the top of the ominous Jefferson (“Jeff”) Hill (previously deemed one of my “trippiest spots” on campus), I watched as several of my friends zipped down the hill atop blue plastic trays they “borrowed” from the dining hall earlier that day.
Those days will soon be over.
Thanks to the reception of a state grant, Athens will be repaving the infamous Jeff Hill in 2010, turning it into a road that allows for an easier and faster connection between the East Green area and uptown Athens.
According to Monday’s issue of The Post, the grant is valued at about $225,000, which doesn’t quite cover the entire cost of the $300,000 project.
So, is this a slip-up or not?
There are a few factors to consider in analyzing whether or not this situation should be deemed a slip-up:
· Pedestrian safety
· Ease of navigation
· Connection of city areas
· Work vehicles, such as ambulances and delivery cars
Traffic and pedestrians:
Jeff Hill is a notoriously tough hill to navigate, as the relatively skinny sidewalk and steep incline sometimes push walkers into the grassy middle section. The transformation of that middle section into a road could pose safety hazards. Not only Jeff Hill, but also the entirety of East Green will be affected in this way. Driving traffic around East Green, a heavy pedestrian area, will increase exponentially with a new road available.
Hannah Senn, an Ohio University freshman who currently resides in Washington Hall, is skeptical about the advantages the project will provide for East Green residents. “I guess it has its benefits, but at the same time, there are so many students that go up that hill that in the winter, if someone lost control and there were students on there, it could be a potential problem,” she said.
However, the traffic would increase because of the community’s need for a better driving connection between the two areas, which would be implemented by the road.
Worker vehicles and cost:
The road would allow vehicles such as ambulances and delivery cars, both of which thrive on getting from place to place as quickly and efficiently as possible, to navigate the city more easily and therefore the workers would be able to perform their duties more effectively.
Ohio University junior Rue Khalsa lived in Washington Hall on East Green her freshman year, and during that time, needed an ambulance on two different occasions. “On the surface, it looks like a very positive idea. I think that it might ease traffic and allow people who are in emergency situations to get where they’re going more quickly,” she said.
Khalsa also has a few doubts about the project. “I guess it might be a little more unsafe for students who are going up and down the hill, in case someone had a mishap and fell or something like that, and then cars are kind of going very quickly down that hill. But I think that the positives probably outweigh the negatives. Not only would it assist people who are in emergency situations like I was, but it might also ease congestion in general,” she said.
Based solely on the buzz heard around town and opinions of those I’ve come in contact with, the general consensus of many people is that $300,000 is a great deal of the state and city’s money to spend just on Jeff Hill.
Some ominous looks at Jeff Hill.
Cara Miller, an Ohio University junior, is a delivery person for Avalanche Pizza. She has been delivering for nearly two years. “If [Jeff Hill] were a road, I don’t think I would use it very much, just because I don’t like driving in areas that have a high density of students walking home drunk. I feel like it would just be kind of unsafe because there are so many students who walk up and down Jeff Hill. I think there’s other places in Athens where roads could be built that would be more useful,” she said.
Athens residents have a few remaining months with the grassy hill, as the project is slated to finish in August, just in time for new students to arrive. Perhaps they won’t be so turned off by the “eye sore,” a word used to describe Jeff Hill by Athens City Street Director Andrew Stone to Alex Stuckey for The Post.
Though Jeff Hill sledding days might soon be over, I hear Morton Hill (another one of my trippy spots) is a pretty close second in terms of local inclines.
Thoughts or opinions? Leave a comment.
Until next time, cheers!