Heavy Traffic Expected in Carbondale

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By Amy Fox
By Andy Shofstall

CARBONDALE -- SIU students have begun arriving in Carbondale and many more will be here in just a few days. That also means more traffic and confusion on the roadways.

With so many new students unfamiliar with the area, there can be a lot of difficulty navigating around town, especially in downtown Carbondale.  So local law enforcement is encouraging everyone to slow down and play it safe.

Cars drive up and down Main Street in Carbondale.

"I know my way there, and I know my way back," says SIU Junior Tasha Pena.

"You never know where you might end up," says Jose Guzman, a new SIU student.

While traffic is flowing smoothly right now, things will soon change once SIU students move back to campus at the end of the week.

"Well, any time we get students back into town, obviously that's more people on the roads here in Carbondale, so we do see an increase in traffic accidents," says Carbondale Police Department Lieutenant Corey Kemp.

Over the last five years, the Carbondale Police Department reports a 23 percent increase in traffic accidents during the month of August.

"Basically, if you're not from the area, it can get dangerous because when the students get back, they don't pay attention to the signs," says Melissa Wooley, a Carbondale resident.

Guzman moved to Carbondale on Saturday. He knows first-hand what it's like to navigate an unfamiliar area.

"When I was driving, getting to South University Avenue, it was kind of confusing because I got past my apartment and I had to go all the way down to get to another street, so I can just go around," he says.

"I don't live in Carbondale, so I kind of just watched people and learned from them," says Pena.

With increased traffic on the roads and so many drivers unfamiliar with the area, navigating around all of the one way streets can be a challenge for some.

"I've been living here since I was 7 years old and I'm telling you, I have seen it all," Wooley says.  

"The GPS also gets kind of confused, so you have to take a long route," says Guzman.

"A lot of people rely on the person in front of them to kind of guide them through the one way roads," Pena says.  

When in doubt, police encourage drivers to play it safe.

"The best thing to do is just be aware of your surroundings and make sure you look at all stop signs and street signs as you drive around Carbondale," says Lt. Kemp.

As students become more familiar with the area, traffic lights and signs will once again take care of themselves.  But, Guzman says he isn't taking any chances.

"Right now, I prefer walking," says Guzman.

During the upcoming move-in weekend, the City of Carbondale will put up portable signs directing students and families to campus housing.

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