Are Juniper Road's Days Numbered?

Author: Ed Cohen

Juniper Road will no longer divide the campus if a road project proposed by University planners wins approval.

The University also is proposing a realignment of Edison Road with Angela Boulevard at the south end of campus and building a public park-like area to be called the Town Common where the campus meets the Northeast Neighborhood.

Juniper is the north-south road that runs between the stadium and the Joyce Center. It separates the central part of campus from a growing number of facilities on the east side. Notre Dame wants to remove the portion that runs through campus and relocate traffic onto an improved roadway to the east.

The latest proposals, which have drawn mostly positive public comments from residents, call for a new roadway to begin between the campus and Ivy Road, continue south through mostly University-owned properties behind the houses on the west side of Ivy and then reconnect with Ivy near the softball stadium and tennis pavilion.

University planners want to vacate Juniper for several reasons, primarily to keep the campus from sprawling. But there’s also concern about the increased number of pedestrians crossing the road. A 61-year-old female employee was injured in February crossing Juniper when she was struck by a vehicle. She suffered a fractured skull and was hospitalized, but the injury was not considered life-threatening.

Traffic congestion along Juniper and the potential for accidents figure only to increase. Most students and employees already park in lots east of the road, and the area has been the focus of much new construction in recent decades. The next huge addition will be the $70 million Jordan Hall of Science, going up in front of the Rolfs Sports Recreation Center. That building is expected to be completed in 2006.

Notre Dame officials have been studying the pros and cons of closing Juniper for at least three years, and public meetings with residents began last fall. The University has emphasized it wants to minimize the impact on local residents, which is why earlier proposals that called for simply widening Ivy Road — and which would have required moving or demolishing several homes — have now been all but abandoned.

Saint Joseph County would require the University to pay for the project, which is expected to cost at least $10 million. The plan must be still approved by Saint Joseph County Council. A vote is expected this spring or summer.

The Town Common proposed for the south end of campus would become the front yard of the Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts, scheduled to be completed this spring. The park also would adjoin a stretch of Eddy Street that the University and community organizations have long proposed redeveloping into a more typical “college town” retail district.