The University of South Carolina wants to close for good the section of Greene Street in front of the Russell House student union to cars.
In a request to city of Columbia leaders to cut off traffic on Greene from Sumter to Pickens streets, USC cited its growing enrollment.
The area has become more congested over the past decade as USC’s enrollment has grown by 22 percent. USC has nearly 33,000 students on campus.
Columbia City Council will discuss the school’s request at a work session Tuesday.
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USC usually closes a gate blocking Greene from Sumter to Pickens only from 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, the busiest period for students attending classes. A portion of Greene Street has been closed during the day since 1975, the school said.
But the stretch of Greene Street has been closed to cars at all hours since May 2014. It also was closed while USC renovated its Women’s Quad, starting in mid-2013.
Those closings caused motorists to become accustomed to finding alternate routes, USC chief operating officer Ed Walton said in a letter to Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson.
Meanwhile, USC has installed new gates that expand the area blocked off to cars.
Closing the stretch of Greene Street to cars would help make the city more pedestrian and bike friendly, Walton wrote. Student leaders also want to make that portion of Greene Street car-free.
School officials said they have met with leaders from the nearby University Hill neighborhood, who have endorsed the idea. Closing the street would reduce cruising and could lead to a drop in crime, Walton wrote.
The gates could be unlocked quickly to allow access to police cars, fire trucks and ambulances if needed, the school said.
USC also is developing plans for a roundabout on Greene Street near Sumter Street so cars can turn around.
The school will allow access on Greene Street to mopeds, which have become more popular on campus, but they must stay on the street.