Road work begins to address ‘public safety hazard’

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Workers were out on the streets Wednesday morning across a swath of downtown repainting centerlines and lanes after a months-long pursuit by Selma City Councilwoman Miah Jackson.

The current work, which is taking place along a number of main streets throughout downtown, including Broad Street, Water Avenue and others, stems from a call Jackson received in March from the Alabama Department of Public Safety.

According to Jackson, officials with the department began receiving calls from motorists regarding “hazardous conditions” along downtown streets, due to missing street lines, and deemed the issue a “public safety hazard.”

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Jackson said she immediately went to work on the issue – she contacted Selma Mayor Darrio Melton about the issue, asking for attention to be paid to the hazardous roadways and seeking guidance as to what the Selma Public Works Department needed to do to tackle the issue, but never received a response.

Following that, Jackson went and talked to workers in the Selma Public Works Department and they directed her to Ozark Striping, the company the local department employs for such work.

Jackson contacted the company but, at the time, didn’t have the funding required for the project – once Selma City Treasurer Ronita Wade returned to work, Jackson employed her expertise in finding money to be allocated to the project and then took the issue before the Selma City Council which unanimously agreed to move forward with the work.

The downtown street work began Tuesday and will be ongoing over the next several days, but Jackson said she has already begun receiving phone calls from appreciative citizens and leaders.

“It’s making a tremendous difference,” Jackson said. “I started getting calls yesterday afternoon thanking me, but the thanks really need to go to the city council and our treasurer.”

One of those phone calls came from Dallas County Probate Judge Jimmy Nunn, who Jackson had been in contact with prior to the beginning of the project.

The downtown striping effort cost just under $10,000.

Moving forward, Jackson plans to hire a full-service lawn company to tackle areas around the downtown center – she has already reached out to multiple landscapers in the area, but has had difficulty in finding a company that provides edging, weed-eating and hedge-trimming services.

Funds have already been allocated for the downtown “beautification” effort and Jackson plans to lean on Selma City Councilwoman Jannie Thomas to find a company capable of taking on the full project.

Additionally, Jackson plans to have downtown parking spaces, particularly along Water Avenue and near the courthouse, repainted, though she said that effort might have to be put on hold until the following fiscal year.

For now, Jackson is pleased to see the new striping along the streets and the impact it will have on travelers and pedestrians.

“This is extremely helpful,” Jackson said. “I think it will show that we, the council, are working to answer the needs of our citizens. This is a need that was identified as a hazard and the council addressed it immediately by allocating the funds. It is definitely a public safety issue – public safety for our drivers and public safety for our pedestrians. It’s definitely for their protection and well-being.”