Accessibility improvements make navigating campus easier, safer

Bollards have been installed near the Godchaux Nursing Annex and MRB III to designate it a "pedestrian zone." (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt Plant Operations and Campus Planning have recently completed several projects aimed at improving accessibility on campus.

Improvements have been made at about a dozen locations and include installing ramps, repairing concrete and smoothing sidewalks. An electronic wheelchair lift has been added at the stairs of Peabody Library’s main entrance, and conduits have been placed beneath sidewalks near Alumni Lawn, Curry Field and The Commons Lawn in order to run electrical cords during events.

The purpose of these efforts is “to try to eliminate some of the bumps, trip hazards and barriers that people in wheelchairs or in motorized assistance vehicles may encounter,” said Mark Petty, assistant vice chancellor for plant operations.

Vanderbilt has always been in compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, Petty said, but not all floors of the campus’s historic buildings have been fully accessible. The recent renovation of Alumni Hall and the replacement of the Kissam residence halls with the College Halls project will help remedy this.

Locations receiving accessibility improvements include:

  • East House – new ramp installed
  • Peabody College campus – broken sidewalks repaired and smoothed
  • Peabody Library – wheelchair lift installed at the main entrance stairs
  • The Commons Lawn, Curry Field and Alumni Lawn – conduits installed underneath sidewalks to run electrical cords during events
  • Rand Hall – new ramp and entry installed and broken concrete repaired
  • Carmichael Towers – brick sidewalk replaced
  • Ingram Hall – new ramp installed
  • Mayfield 3 and 4 – sidewalk access installed
  • Kensington and 25th avenues – new ramps and crosswalk installed
  • Medical Center parking lots along Natchez Trace – new ramps and stairs installed
  • McGugin Center to the Baseball Field House – new ramps and crosswalk installed

Area now restricted to pedestrian traffic only

In addition, an area beginning behind the School of Nursing’s Godchaux Hall and spanning toward Medical Research Building III, around part of Medical Center North and across the 21st Avenue pedestrian bridge to the Peabody campus has been closed to all but pedestrian traffic to promote safety as well as reduce wear on tear on walkway surfaces.

Golf carts, motorcycles, motorized bicycles, motor scooters and mopeds are not allowed through this area, which at points becomes very narrow, because they pose a danger to people on foot. Riders of non-motorized bicycles are asked to walk their bikes around the corner of MRB III and across the pedestrian bridge. Vehicles such as motorized wheelchairs are allowed. New bollards and signs have been installed to mark the restricted area.

This area includes the green roof atop Godchaux Nursing Annex, an underground complex of lecture halls that connects Godchaux Hall with the Stevenson Center complex. Faculty, staff and students traverse the green roof every day, but it was not designed to withstand the heavy traffic of motorized vehicles. Restricting the pedestrian bridge to all but foot traffic also preserves its surface.

Scooters, bicycles must obey rules

Motorcycles, motorized bicycles, motor scooters and mopeds may not be operated on sidewalks, walkways or similar pathways per Tennessee law, and bicycles may not be operated on city sidewalks surrounding campus. Vanderbilt’s Office of Traffic and Parking enforces its policy regarding the registration and use of these vehicles.

Read more about these policies.

Vehicles such as motorized wheelchairs that provide handicap accessibility are exempt from this law if their use is coordinated and approved through the university’s Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Disability Services department.