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Parents want walking bridge over U.S. 80

The Edgewood Elementary School P.T.O. wants a pedestrian bridge built across U.S. Highway 80 between Montague Street and Edgewood Drive.

P.T.O president Henry Hicks and principal Joe Peterson asked the Selma City School Board Thursday night to write a letter stating its support for the project. The board moved unanimously to write the letter at the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan.

“There are a lot of children that have to cross that highway, and it is scary,” Hicks said. “You’ve got trucks and stuff coming off that hill. You’ve got teachers trying to take these little babies across the street.”

Peterson said more than 100 students, or about one-fourth of the student population, cross the highway before and after school. While a crossing guard assists students for about 45 minutes before and after school, some students are forced to cross before the crossing guard arrives because their parents must leave for work.

“They’re crossing that highway without assistance in the morning,” Peterson said. “That’s a major undertaking for a child.”

You never know when someone might decide to not obey the traffic laws and blow through the light, and there might be a child there that day.”

Peterson said the pedestrian bridge would benefit the whole neighborhood, not just Edgewood Elementary. He mentioned the congregation at Elkdale Baptist Church in particular, which is situated across the street from Edgewood.

“It would be a major asset for the community,” he said.

Hicks and Peterson met earlier this week with the Rev. Micah Gandy of Elkdale Baptist Church. Many parents park in the church parking lot when they pick up their children in the afternoon, and many people from the neighborhoods on the south side of U.S. 80 also walk through the lot.

“We agree with them that there’s a serious concern there,” Gandy said. “You’re talking about children, every afternoon and every morning, crossing probably the most traveled highway in all of Selma.”

This idea of a pedestrian bridge has been discussed for several years. Rex Thompson, ALDOT District 5 manager, said there are many factors to consider with a project like this.

“That’s a federal highway,” Thompson said. “A lot of engineering would have to go into it. It’s a lot more to it than just going over there and building an overpass, and putting children on it.”

Not to say that it couldn’t be done, but it’s a lot of factors that have to generated into it.”

The plan is in its early stages right now. Hicks and Peterson have not contacted any engineers yet. They plan on also meeting with Mayor George Evans, Selma City Council members, Dallas County commissioners and the Alabama Department of Transportation to drum up additional support.

Obasohan wants to see this project continue to roll and pledged his support at Thursday night’s meeting.

He visited Edgewood Elementary School earlier this week. Obasohan arrived just as students were leaving school and witnessed the danger firsthand. He said traffic was backed up two or three blocks down U.S. 80.

“The traffic was so congested, and it’s so scary to see our children have to cross the street,” Obasohan said. “I was nervous when I saw that.”