Norfolk State, HRT partner to increase student safety

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk State University is touting security enhancements as they prepare for the new school year to begin. Thursday was no exception, when the college unveiled a partnership between the city, state and Hampton Roads Transit.

This year NSU students will be able to skip the long, and oftentimes dangerous, walk from an HRT platform that put them on the opposite side of Brambleton Avenue from their school. Now they can enter the campus directly when they exit the Tide, thanks to a new stairwell and secure gate.

While a delegate, Algie Howell Junior helped secure funding for the project.

“Safety,” Howell said. “Safety was the main issue. It was not only for the safety of NSU students, but for anyone crossing this highway. It was one of the greatest things that has happened to change a wrong that I can think of. The stop was supposed to be over here, but the then president of NSU was opposed to that.”

For Interim President Eddie Moore Jr., Thursday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony was a welcomed sight because it makes way for a new, more secure route to the school. Eventually, Moore said, the university will put in a sidewalk that will lead straight from the platform to Presidential Drive on campus.

“Our little four-legged child has already been hit by a car on this street,” Moore said. “I think this is a very, very smart and wise expenditure of money. One of the things that my board was very concerned, when I started, was the safety on campus. We’ve upgraded the call stations. We’ve expanded our patrols. In fact, I saw officers on bike patrol today. We’ve put in LiveSafe, which is an app that our students can volunteer for.”

“We’re just glad to be able to celebrate this, and we look forward to light rail hopefully being expanded to Virginia Beach and increasing ridership,” said HRT President and CEO William Harrell. “This is an important element of transportation in Hampton Roads. A number of customers almost got hit crossing Brambleton Avenue. That’s a heavily-traveled roadway. So, this is certainly a much more safe option.”

And this is an important piece of a bigger puzzle, not just for HRT, but especially NSU, when it comes to campus safety. The NSU Police chief said the new entrance will be frequently monitored by police.

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