Church urges city to improve pedestrian safety - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Church urges city to improve pedestrian safety

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October 7, 2003

Albany - A northwest Albany church says more people will get killed if the city and state don't improve pedestrian safety around the church.

In July, a 20 year-old man was hit and killed by a car as he tried to cross Liberty Expressway. He had scaled the fence next to Byne Baptist Church to get from Wal-Mart to the Albany Mall. Church members say people continue to cross the fence and something must be done.

"This is the shortest route from the mall to Wal-mart" said Byne Baptist minister Greg Ware as he points to show where people are jumping over the fence. Ware often sees pedestrians, many of them Turner Job Corps students, trying to scale the fence and cross the Liberty Expressway.

"I've stopped several and warned them about the dangers of crossing the highway. I've even taken a few to the mall myself," said Ware. People jump over a 3 foot deep ditch onto the fence and then basically fall to the ground. The chance of injury is high even before they try to cross the busy by-pass.

"We don't want anyone else to get killed or hurt," said Ware. So church members sent city commissioners and state leaders letters asking them to install a taller fence, increase police patrols to stop pedestrians, and add a bus route between the mall and Wal-mart.

City commissioners agreed to ask the D.O.T to put up an 8 foot fence, but wouldn't agree to add a bus stop. "I know adding a bus stop would take both Lee and Dougherty Counties working together, but it's necessary," said Ware.

The D.O.T put up signs warning pedestrians that crossing Liberty Expressway is illegal. Albany Police stepped up patrols to stop potential crossers. Police are also requesting the D.O.T lower the speed limit from 65 to 55 miles per hour. "We want to do a study to let the D.O.T and the citizens know that the speed on the expressway is just to high," said Chief Bobby Johnson.

Minister Ware says the church hopes these steps to improve pedestrian safety will stop tragedies, like the one that left Lorenzo James dead in July, from happening again.

Turner Job Corps routinely drops students off at Wal-mart to shopping. Since the accident, they have warned students not to cross the highway and added more pick-up times.

Posted at 4:59PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com