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Crosswalk a bone of contention

For MIT junior Ceani Guevara, solving the problem of inadequate crosswalks on Memorial Drive had become a personal mission just weeks before a fellow student, Michele Micheletti, was killed while crossing the riverside roadway.

Ms. Micheletti was hit last Friday night by a car at the intersection of Memorial Drive and Fowler Street, across from MacGregor House and about one block from Endicott Street, where Ms. Guevara -- as well as MIT officials -- have advocated a crosswalk.

The crossing at Endicott Street was first requested in 1986 by MIT at the request of three fraternities after a serious collision at this intersection involving MIT students. In 1996, an MIT student suffered a broken leg when he was struck by a car while trying to cross near that spot.

Ironically, a day before Ms. Micheletti's death, concerns about the safety of pedestrians crossing Memorial Drive at MIT were raised by MIT planning officials and several citizens with the Metropolitan District Commission's traffic consultant during a meeting at MIT of the Charles River Basin Master Plan Citizens Advisory Committee.

Ms. Guevara, who is majoring in EECS and management, became personally involved in trying to establish a crosswalk at the corner of Endicott Street and Memorial Drive following a class assignment from Paul Levy, adjunct professor in urban studies and planning, to "get a problem fixed," she said.

"I identified the problem area as that intersection. Hundreds of people cross there every week to get to the boathouse and the river," Ms. Guevara said.

On October 6, Ms. Guevara circulated an e-mail petition asking the MDC to paint a crosswalk at the corner of Endicott Street and Memorial Drive and to put up a sign warning cars in advance they must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

The Guevara petition read, in part: "I would strongly encourage you to get a crosswalk painted in front of the boathouse as soon as possible. I realize that there is currently a Charles River master plan under development, and that this committee could be in charge of doing this. However��������������������������� people are risking their lives. We urge you not to wait until a fatality occurs to paint the crosswalk."

Ms. Guevara circulated the petition for a week, garnering more than 400 signatures before sending it to MDC Commissioner David B. Balfour Jr.

There has been no response to Ms. Guevara's request, though she has received a number of unofficial reactions to her petition and her questions. These unofficial comments include: "It's too late to add anything to this year's painting contract," "Memorial Drive needs repaving -- it doesn't make sense to paint a crosswalk, only to repave and repaint the same surface," and "We don't like to send out need evaluations in the cold weather."

Angered but undaunted, Ms. Guevara intends to "reinvigorate the petition," she said. "The only way to do this is by pressure."

Ms. Guevara invites e-mail comments at <>.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 5, 1997.

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