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New law building downtown sparks congestion concerns for students

Downtown Phoenix students weigh the pros and cons of the new Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law building.

The ASU School of Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus is seen on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. The school's new building opened this semester after more than two years.
The ASU School of Law and Society on the Downtown Phoenix campus is seen on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. The school's new building opened this semester after more than two years.

Pounding, floodlights, drills and cranes — after years of construction, The ASU Beus Center for Law and Society opened its doors right as students entered the fall 2016 semester.

Since July 2014, students watched the new home for the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law come to life. After much anticipation and even more construction, the building finally held its grand opening on Aug. 15. With its unveiling comes a buzz of excitement centered around the new building and fears of more congestion for Downtown Phoenix campus students.

“There are of course some growing pains and minor problems with the new building, but once everyone gets into the groove of the new location I think it’ll be overall a great thing,” law student Alex Ponikvar said.

Ponikvar said a part of what attracted him to the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law was its placement in the center of downtown.

The school acts as an addition to a rapidly growing campus, joining a list of nationally-recognized programs such as the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“I thought it was going to be super cool because I felt like downtown could really use a big school or college, so it could build the downtown area more and create a better atmosphere for students,” downtown Phoenix resident and nursing sophomore Ana Samuels said.

Samuels said that because the campus gets crowded, the school provides students who live near campus with more resources, like areas to study. However, she said the new school adds to a growing problem on the campus: congestion.

“It’s in a pretty tight area, and it’s going to be a lot of parking and traffic with students trying to get to class on time, and since it’s such a small area it’s going to be pretty condensed,” Samuels said.

According to the ASU Office of Institutional Analysis, since the inception of the Downtown Phoenix campus in fall 2006, the number of students attending classes downtown has more than tripled. With 6,229 students in 2006, the number of Downtown Phoenix students increased to 22,105 students by 2014.

That number will only increase with the creation of the Beus Center.

For many students, that rising number adds to concerns about a lack of parking in the area.

“Just the first day being there [the first day of school], the entire street along the new building was lined with cars, so I’m wondering if traffic will be a problem. Especially since now there is an actual stop light and not a stop sign [at Taylor and First Streets],” journalism sophomore Nicole Tower said.

ASU has yet to announce any solutions to the limited parking.

“I’m expecting more people downtown now that there is a new building, which is good and bad because the school activities will be better,” Tower said. “At the same time I liked downtown because it was quiet and quaint compared to Tempe.”

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