For years, I have been concerned about what I view as a very risky situation on West Broad Street. Crossing Broad, even at the official crosswalks, has always been scary, and crossing in the middle of the street is truly life-threatening. Even so, I have seen lots of people do it through the years, and there have been accidents, including a death or two.
More recently, with the addition of the Steak ‘N Shake pedestrian traffic, which includes customers who park across the street and employees who apparently HAVE to park across the street, I see people risking their lives all the time. Just last week, I saw an African-American mother with three children, followed closely by a Steak ‘N Shake employee. They made it across safely, but it sure didn’t seem safe as they stood in the middle of four lanes of high-speed traffic and finally darted across just ahead of oncoming vehicles. I am convinced that it’s just a matter of time until someone is run over, and it probably will happen pretty soon given the volume of crossings.
My question to Athens-Clarke commissioners is: What can we do about it in terms of prevention? I, personally, would love to see a pedestrian crosswalk over Broad. ACC traffic engineer Steve Decker claims that crosswalks cost “millions” but my brother in law, a civil engineer who has built several of them, tells me that the cost should be a few hundred thousand dollars. In any event, how much is a life or lives, worth? I’m sure that we could get a lot of neighborhood support from both sides of Broad.
I know that an overpass or even a traffic light would be expensive, but fixing up an indigent patient after a bad accident is also pretty expensive. There may be a way to raise funds outside of government, given all of the new medical businesses popping up on Broad. Athens Regional Medical Center, for one, might actually save money by investing in a safer crossing, given that any poor, uninsured person who gets injured there will become their non-paying customer.
Plus, pedestrians always get short shrift in highway spending. The cost of an overpass or any other solution is negligible compared to what we spend annually on automobile transit.
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