Monday, July 16, 2012

South Lamar bridge may get guardrails

    I’ve heard talk that the South Lamar bridge over Highway 6 may soon get much-needed guardrails or even a fence. The fence would protect cars on Highway 6 from items being thrown from cars or by persons on the bridge.
    When my family first moved to Oxford we rented a condo in Provence Park, a townhouse development just south of the intersection of Highway 6 and South Lamar.
    Provence Park has a great location, just under a mile from the Square, and an easy mile walk at that. But to get there you have to cross the bridge over Highway 6, a bridge with no guardrails. There is a small sidewalk on the bridge, but it’s a bit unnerving to walk across a bridge with a knee-high railing, with a four-lane highway 40 feet below.
    It’s even more unnerving when one’s young children have to use the bridge. The first time we crossed the bridge as a family my son, then 11, ran ahead of us and then sat down on the guardrail. Now we don’t usually fall over backwards when we sit down on something like that, but if it happens 40 feet above a busy highway, it can only happen once.
    In pretty short order I marched up to city hall and demanded an audience with Oxford mayor Pat Patterson. In just as short an order he explained that the city had no control over the bridge, and that it was under the authority of the Mississippi Department of Transportation. He said the city had been “raising hell” about the bridge for years, seeking either a guardrail or a fence. He suggested I take the issue up with MDOT.
    And so I did, with a letter that was admittedly a whole lot more bark than bite. I pointed out to MDOT that they were illegally converting a public pedestrian road into a limited access road, and threatened to sue. I never followed through.
    But the logic of MDOT is interesting. They felt the bridge and sidewalk weren’t up to current MDOT standards, and so MDOT was intentionally making the bridge as dangerous as possible to discourage pedestrian use, even though pedestrians must use the bridge and have used this route for ages. It’s pretty goofy logic if you ask me.
    To read my letter to MDOT and their response, click here.
    Of course, I don’t live at Provence Park anymore. I hope the current residents enjoy the guardrails, if they come to fruition.


Unknown said...

Not only does the bridge need guardrails but should have street lamps installed as well. Oxford is supposedly known for being a safe city. I seriously doubt that's the case. With Ole Miss increasing it's student population by record numbers, something needs to be done to accommodate all of these students. I would love to know, how many pedestrians have either fallen off of the bridge or been struck by a vehicle while crossing that bridge in recent years? How many deaths or injuries will it take? It's a main road to the square. Something needs to be done.

Col. Reb Sez said...

Actually, no one has fallen off the bridge, but it only has to happen once. Likewise, I'm not sure anyone has been hit. But safety begins before an accident.

My understanding is that there will be a fence, to protect cars passing under the bridge from any items that might be thrown by pedestrians or from a passing car.

About time!